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Free images of Mexico - Cobá - Maya Ruins 

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Less than 100 km east of the famous Chichen Itza, we find another Pre-Columbian Mayan site -- the ruins of a large city named Cobá.  Located in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico, the city was built between two lakes during the Classic Period (600-900 AD) and was once spread over 80 square kilometers.  The lakes are believed to have given the city its name which means "waters stirred by wind" or "ruffled waters" since there are five lakes in the area.

Cobá is an interesting city in that it is the central site from which as many as 50 ancient roads called Sacbe (singular:  sacbe, plural:  sacbeob) radiate to other smaller sites both near and far.  At its peak, archeologists believe that the city may have had as many as 100,000 people living near the area.

 

Jungle path leading to Coba Mayan Ruins in Mexico.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 1
One of many paths connecting structures at the site.

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The scabeob along which Mayan's traveled range from between 10 to 30 feet wide, with one being about 100 km long!  Sacbe means "white road" and is quite appropriate, since the roads were made of paved, elevated stone and plaster.  Some archeologists have said that the building of the roads exceeds the difficulty of building the pyramids at the site.  How did the Maya build these perfectly straight roads with little elevation points to mark their bearings?  What was the purpose of such wide roads when they didn't use pack animals or wagons?

  Did you know....

that some of the sacbeob are so long that the astronauts on a shuttle mission could see them from space?

My visit to the site began with a brisk 3 km walk headed directly towards the largest pyramid stopping only to visit a ball court along the way.  The path is easy walking with only tree roots and the occasional hole to contend with.  A canopy of trees protects you from the heat of the day.  Blue butterflies flitter past, but since it is dry, I am not bothered by any mosquitoes.

  Did you also know....

that only a small portion of the Mayan ruins at Cobá have been cleared from the jungle and restored?  It is estimated that there are more than 6,500 structures in this area that have not yet been uncovered.

Notice in the photographs below how one could easily walk past a structure and never see it. 

Can you spot the pyramids?

Hidden Mayan Ruins in jungle of mexico at Coba.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 2
Thousands of mounds and structures are covered by centuries of thick jungle growth.

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Hidden Mayan Ruins in jungle of mexico at Coba.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 3
Thousands of mounds and structures are covered by centuries of thick jungle growth.

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Hidden Mayan Ruins in jungle of mexico at Coba.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 4
Thousands of mounds and structures are covered by centuries of thick jungle growth.

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Hidden Mayan Ruins in jungle of mexico at Coba.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 5
The roots of trees are breaking down the rocks of the structures.

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Women cleaning area around Coba Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 6
Local women keep excavated sites clean of leaves and debris.

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Mexican woman with broom made from palm branch.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 7
This local woman was pleased to show me her broom made of palm leaves.

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The city of Cobá has two ball courts.  A ball court is a corridor of two stoned walls with players attempting to place a rubber ball through a stone ring attached to each wall.  At Cobá, the sides of the court are slanted making it possible to get close to the ring.  At Chichen Itza, however, the rings are located high atop almost vertical walls.

There is some discrepancy and theory regarding how this game was actually played.  Were there teams or single players facing off against each other?  It is assumed that players could only use their hips, knees and elbows to maneuver the ball - hands were not allowed.

And what happened to the winner?  It is know that human sacrifice was part of the game, but who got sacrificed - the winner or the loser?  Was the loser the one who lost their life, or was it an honour for the winner to get decapitated and sacrifice himself?  There are also stories circulating that human heads were used in the games instead of a ball?

 

Ball court at coba Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 8  A Ball Court

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Ball court at coba Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 9  A Ball Court

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Stucco laminate on walls of ball court at Coba in Mexico.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 10  A Ball Court
Notice that the sides of the court are smooth.  The above image displays the base rough stones
used to build the structure.  A smooth veneer of rock is added to the top.  My guide explained
that the entire wall was probably stuccoed for a fine smooth finish.

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Ring through which ball passes at ball court in Coba Mexico.

Cobá Mayan Ruins, Mexico - 11  The ring through which the ball must pass.

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Cobá Image Pages    [1]    [2]    [3]

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