Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Balamku--The South Group

Balamku is a lovely lowland Maya archaeology site in southern Campeche. I visited it last Saturday with my friends Barbara and Pedro, who are both Yucatecan archaeologists.

Interestingly, Balamku was only discovered in 1990. I think that the nearby site of Nadzcaan was also discovered in the '90s, illustrating how much is left to be done in the region.

As you might guess, the area is poorly known. It is west of the Rio Bec region and southwest of the Chenes heartland. Balamku itself exhibits a blend of regional architectural styles but lacks a coherent set of the diagnostic features of any one of them.

I haven't reviewed the literature on the site extensively, but in the South Group, the structures seem to exhibit predominantly Peten style masonry and architecture, as you can see in Structure D5-5 (Figure 1). This structure is the tallest pyramid in the South Group, reaching a height of 15 m. The inset-outset stairways look Peten/Calakmul Early Classic to me. The block masonry, inset corners, and inverted-stairway vaults all feel Early Classic too.

Figure 1. Structure D5-5, the primary pyramid in the South Group.
Figure 2. Block masonry flanking the stairway, Str. D5-5.
Figure 3. The risers of the stairs are rather high. The scale is 10 cm.

Figure 4. Crude masonry forms the corbel of the vaults in the temple of Str. D5-5. Note also the kancab pak wasps' nest.

As you can see in Figure 1, the temple atop the pyramid is damaged, probably by looting or tree-falls, exposing in profile the construction of the vaults. Note the crude masonry of the corbel (Figure 4).

The whole South Group appears to be built atop a large platform several meters high (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Edge of the platform supporting the South Group. It must be at least 2 or 3 m high.
Near the edge of Str. D5-5 is small house with Puuc-Chenes type masonry (Figures 6-7). Not surprisingly, this structure is stratigraphically above and therefore younger than the Peten-style block masonry of the main pyramid (Figure 8). The small structure, however, also has a blend of masonry styles itself.

Figure 6. Small house with Puuc-Chenes style masonry in front of Str. D5-5. Note the veneer stone on the front stoop and on the facing of the bench.

Figure 7. Here you can see the veneer stone facing the bench within the structure.

Figure 8. The back of the small structure showing its stratigraphic position above the corner of Str. D5-5. In the foreground, you can see a couple of superimposed stairways from different construction episodes. 

I hope to find time soon to post some photos of the Central Group.


Arnaud, Charlotte, Marie France Fauvet-Berthelot, Dominique Michelet, and Pierre Becquelin (1998). Balamku, Campeche, Mexico: Historia del Grupo Sur. In XI Sinposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 1997, editado por J. P. Laporte and H. Escobedo, pp. 144-161. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala.

No comments:

Post a Comment