Mayan Pyramids: What is Inside Them?

From around 1000 BC to AD 1500, the ancient Maya built hundreds of pyramids across Mesoamerica. These pyramids functioned both as temples where people made offerings to the gods and as the tombs of Mayan rulers. Like the Egyptian pyramids, Mayan pyramids also contained precious goods as well as servants of the buried. However, some Mayan pyramids also included smaller pyramids as enlarged pyramids were built on top of the old ones.

Here are some of the most famous Mayan pyramids across Latin America.

El Castillo Pyramid in Chichén Itzá Complex, Yucatan, Mexico

El Castillo Pyramid, built around 1000 AD, is a good example of a pyramid nesting smaller pyramids inside it like a Russian matryoshka doll. This is because when the inhabitants of Chichén Itzá arrived at the site, there were already abandoned structures. So, instead of demolishing an earlier pyramid, these inhabitants built another pyramid on top of it. When that pyramid got old, they built another one on top of that.

El Castillo Pyramid in Chichén Itzá Complex, Mayan Temples and Pyramids
El Castillo Pyramid in Chichén Itzá Complex
El Castillo Pyramid in Chichén Itzá Complex

The Temple of the Jaguar in Tikal, Petén Department of Guatemala

Built around 732 AD, the Temple of the Jaguar takes its name from the carving of a king sitting on a jaguar throne on a lintel in the structure on top of the pyramid. It is the funerary temple of Jasaw Chan K’awiil I, ruled between AD 682-734. The tomb contained the body of the king, covered with jade jewelery, as well as jaguar skins, painted ceramics, rare spondylus shells, pearls, mirrors, and sculpted portraits of the king. There were also 37 human bones with hieroglyph texts carved on them.

The Lost World Pyramid in Tikal

Lamanai in Belize

Lamanai is one of the oldest Maya sites, first settled around 900 BC. There ar ethree pyramids in the site namely the Jaguar Temple, the Mask Temple, and the High Temple. The 15 feet tall mask on the lower level is among the most distinguished parts at the site.

Lamanai, Mayan Temples and Pyramids
Lamanai, Mayan Temples and Pyramids
Lamanai, Mayan Temples

Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Built around 700 AD, the Temple of the Inscriptions is a typical Mayan temple model. That is, a single stairway climbs up the structure, reaching a single structure with multiple chambers. Its nine levels stand for the nine levels of Xibalba which is the Mayan underworld. There is also a thirteen-level secret passageway to the tomb of King Pakal, representing the thirteen levels of Mayan heaven.

Temple of the Inscriptions

Nohoch Mul Pyramid in Coba, Mexico

Coba settlemenst is famous for having the largest network of stone causeways in the ancient Maya civilisation. It contains the Nohoch Mul Pyramid which is the tallest Mayan pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula and the second tallest in the world, measuring 137-feet-tall. Nohoch Mul is also the only pyramid that one can climb on.

Coba Pyramid
Coba Pyramid