Yaxchilan is an ancient Maya city located on the bank of the Usumacinta River in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. During the height of its power the kings of Yaxchilan built gleaming temples, pyramids, and luxurious palaces clustered along the grand plaza and was one of the most powerful Maya states along the course of the Usumacinta River, with Piedras Negras as its major rival. Architectural styles demonstrate clear differences that mark a clear boundary between the two kingdoms.


In 1882 archeologist Desire Charnay named it City Lorilla but Yaxchilan was a large center, important throughout the Classic era, and the dominant power over such smaller sites as Bonampak and was a rival of Palenque, with which Yaxchilan warred in 654.

The site is particularly known for its well-preserved sculptured stone lintels set above the doorways of the main structures which contain hieroglyphic texts describing the dynastic history of the city.


Yaxchilan is located on the south bank of the Usumacinta River at the apex of a horseshoe-shaped river bend.
This loop defends the site on all sides except for a narrow land approach from the south. This natural barrier protected the city from invasion from outside forces. However, the river was in a high flood stage during the six month rainy season, during this time Yaxchilan became an island due to the swiftly flowing waters of the engorged river which encompassed the city. An all-weather passage across the treacherous river was a necessity in order to gain access to the farmlands to the north of the city.

Yaxchilan river bend in Good Nautical

Yaxchilan had long been known to include an unusual raised terrace beside the river and pier in the river; these structures were long theorized to be the remains of a bridge thought to have been a suspension bridge built by the Maya across the River. If so, it would have been the longest bridge discovered in the ancient world. Yaxchilan required a dependable passageway to provide an uninterrupted flow of traffic across the river on a year-round basis.
Yaxchilan Bridge -Rendering

The prevailing theory is by constructing a 100-meter long suspension bridge featuring three spans extended from a platform on the grand plaza of Yaxchilan crossing the river to the northern shore. This span would be the longest in the world until the construction of the Italian Trezzo sull’Adda Bridge in 1377 and this unique feat of engineering has been virtually reconstructed by computer by archaeoengineering techniques by Engineer James A O’Kon PE. Results of this hypothesis were presented to the archaeological and engineering world in the pages of National Geographic magazine in 1995.

The First Panama Posse gang to visit Yaxchilan was SV RESPITE / MY CROSSROADS AND SV CARINTHIA utilizing local knowledge by LUIS a Chiapas based bilingual tour-guide which still operates in the area. The Area and adjacent world heritage sites are bets accessed via a multi-day excursion from Marina Chiapas a sponsor of the Panama Posse.




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