Puuc, or Puuc style is an architectural style of the Maya in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The name comes from the Yucatecan Maya Puuc language and is the name given to the hill country ( pu'uk ) in the southwest of Yucatán. The northern edge of the hill country appears like a range of hills and is therefore also referred Sierrita de Ticul, he lies about 80 km south of Merida. The hill country is the primary distribution area of ​​the Puuc style of the late classic Maya architecture.

The archaeological Puuc zone

The Puuc region is defined in terms of archaeological by the so-called Puuc style, where there are smooth transitions to the peripheral regions. In this sense, the Puuc region is approximately a rectangle with the following modern places as cornerstones: Maxcanú, Tekax, Hopelchen and Tenabo. The Puuc style is defined by structural engineering and especially the facade decoration of the stone buildings.

In the middle and especially in the late Klassikum the Kalkhügelland has experienced an astounding population explosion. They can be read from the emergence of a large number of small, medium and several very large settlements with elaborate stone architecture. Its construction must have a significant portion of the available labor force bound, probably in the dry season, in which no agronomic activities could be exercised. The supply of the population with a large based on the Milpa system agriculture, large areas claimed and could not be intensified any, must be pushed to the limits. Also problematic water supply was in the karstic area where there was surface water in the form of aguadas (natural, but developed by the Maya ponds ) only in a small area around the Mayan city of Uxmal. You had to rely on cisterns, of which there were a large number in each settlement, which were dug into the rock relatively easy to work. The settlements consisted of partially widely separated groups of brick and built of perishable materials from houses that were built around courtyards on low platforms. It is believed that in the Puuc region several hundred small and large cities existed, in which approximately 500,000 people may have lived.

The most famous Mayan ruins of the Puuc region are:

  • Uxmal
  • Sayil
  • Kabah
  • Labná
  • Oxkintoc
  • Chacmultún

Other important places are:

  • Chac II
  • Chunhuhub
  • Kiuic
  • Xkipché
  • Xlabpak
  • Xcalumkin
  • Xbalché

Expansion of the Puuc style

Probably enough of the Puuc style to the area of today's capital Mérida and up in the space of Chichen Itza, where exist in Yaxuna buildings in the Puuc style. Accurate detection of the extent of style is because of the extensive destruction of the buildings in the lowlands (north of the Puuc hills ) is no longer possible. But there are still localities outside this area with architecture that imitates the Puuc style or quoted, as in Culubá east of Tizimín.

Despite numerous mostly to a locality and its immediate surroundings bound research projects and a large exploration project in the 1970s are in the confusing, thickly wooded hills of the Puuc still discovered every year small localities with standing architecture, which have not been registered. They are at best local hunters known to sometimes spend the night in them.

Features of the Puuc style

The stone buildings of the Puuc style exhibit (though not exact ) on squareness. The entrance is located on the long side of the interiors. Usually, rooms were arranged in odd numbers in a row, often there are two parallel rows that were accessible from one or both sides. More complex shapes with transverse areas of the ends are common. The rooms were covered with a stone vault, which is not a real vault dissipating with a pressure capstone, but ultimately two more and more approximate to one another wall panels that were connected by a capstone (without traction ). This is an evolution of the classic Maya culture widespread corbelled.

Facade construction

Characteristic of all phases of the Puuc style is in principle similar structure of the façade of the stone building, which consists from bottom to top of the following parts, the walk around the entire building, even if they are on the main facade, the sides and the back of the building can be designed in different ways:

  • The base, which runs around the whole building and at the same time the level of the outer interiors pretending ( interiors that are accessed through a front room, there are usually at least one level higher)
  • The lower wall area of ​​about 2 m in height, which also corresponds to the height of the entrance doors,
  • The middle cornice, which is located above the door beams, the dista on a further smoothed layer
  • The upper panel, corresponding in height to the vault of the interior spaces,

The decoration has clearly defined positions, one of which is rarely deviated:

  • The base is usually kept simple, like it in late stages, more to the design of the cornices
  • The cornices consist of one to five horizontal bands. For two bands, the lower projecting downwardly and outwardly at an angle right at the top to the lower three bands is arranged in mirror image, and the two frame a recessed band. If more than three bands, the middle bands are designed differently. The top cornice the top ribbon is always twice as high as the others.
  • The two panels are usually designed differently: the lower wall surface is mostly undecorated, the upper carries ( at least from the Säulchenstil ) always decorated in stone mosaic.

Structural Engineering

The construction method rejects the Säulchenstil the following typical features on: the walls are built in bulk masonry, the casing stones have no supporting function but also serve as "lost formwork " for the wall core consisting of a mixture of lime mortar, lime sand and stones of various sizes. At the height of the upper edge of the stone door jambs, the walls on a smooth layer of mortar on which rest the door beams. About the Bar door is followed by another such layer; this layer can be recognized by a slight recess of the wall cladding stones inside the building. On this layer the far into the wall reaching large stones on the bottom row of the middle cornice lie on. They are held in place by the overlying wall core. At the height of its upper edge is found in the interiors of a projection to the inside of usually around 10 cm, which is formed by a series of well- crafted stones. With them the sloping vault, which is often (especially in the late Uxmal style) from shoe-shaped in cross-section stones that are deeply embedded in the masonry core formed begins. The inner surface of the dome tilts upwards towards more and more to the interior to ( but there are also completely straight running vaulted areas). After about 9 stone rows followed by another, smaller and more inwardly projecting shoulder on which the rest up to 50 cm wide deck stones of the vault. So it's not a real capstone available and there also is no adhesion between the vault pages instead. The stability is determined solely by the weight and density of the two arched sides. The mean in the longitudinal direction of the vault capstone, which is opposite the front door was often painted on the bottom with the image of God Kawiil, framed by two hieroglyphs lines in red.

At the height of the brick row below the vault approach and at the height of the row below the uppermost projection were ( above) used thick wooden beams (bottom) and thin that spanned across the longitudinal direction of the vault, the interior spaces near the corners. Sometimes you find another set in the middle of the vault height. Of them, the openings in the walls have been preserved only. Whether they had a constructive or static function is doubtful, at least they were easy in any room. Outwardly, the vault is closed by a slightly inwardly inclined wall construction. Before this construction wall cladding the upper wall surface including the middle and upper cornice is set in a later stage of construction. The roof surface was associated with a slightly curved stucco floor, which was made ​​waterproof by intense knocking during curing complete.

The facade in stone mosaic was prepared in two steps. First, the outer wall of the vault was left raw, there was an almost vertical wall construction made ​​of stone and mortar, which largely corresponded to the wall core. Later ( and this step was omitted relatively common) was constructed in the far out from the wall rocks of the middle cornice the actual show facade. She had no interaction with the wall construction and, therefore, fell over the centuries often partially or completely shut. In this case, the construction of the wall was exposed to the weather exposed, which then further contributing to decomposition of the building.

The manner of construction also had positive and negative impact on the stability and durability. Were missing teeth of the walls and wall parts at the edges and between the lower and upper wall half. In particular, below the smoothed surfaces and above the stone row of the middle cornice formed an ideal fracture surface. On the other side walls and especially the arch halves were very stable and fell often as a homogeneous block into the interior, where they sometimes get in this form until today. In contrast, vault collapsed the Early Puuc style as a whole and its constituent inner casing stones are in their original context in the building rubble. Reason for this different behavior is likely to be the quality of the lime mortar used.

The interior and exterior surfaces were covered with a layer of lime mortar (stucco ), which also formed the basis of the painting. In the early stages of Puuc architecture often takes a dark red painting of the interior walls, sometimes the exterior surfaces, together with horizontal bands of black painted hieroglyphics. The also made of stucco material floors often had a yellowish hue. The stucco surface was different in thickness, often to compensate for irregularities in the execution of the stone walls and sometimes had a reliefing in the form of jagged rows above the doors and on the projections of the vault on.

Building forms

The simplest and also temporally earliest form are simple chains of spaces which are arranged adjacent to each other and are all open on one side. Here, the middle rooms are usually longer than the side, they have in the early styles either three adjacent inputs or a wide input with one or two columns. This chain of areas is often doubled. The rear compartments are accessible through the front. One in the Puuc region rather rare variant is a second room just behind the central space of the first row. This variant is often encountered in the Chenes style. Particularly in small places and buildings in contact with one or two rooms, usually an odd number of inputs is desired to make a clear input medium is formed.

As a further refinement, will each have a transverse space at the end of the double room number. This space can be entered from the respective side. This variant can also be open on all four sides, a guy who is apparently more common, especially in the western Puuc region.

On these basic patterns also the much more complex building build on. They are very often developed in several phases, the long chain was doing mostly attached to an existing block of rooms. Often, four rows of rooms are arranged around a solid core of rubble, as in the southern palace of Sayil. As a further refinement then sometimes came a second or even third floor added examples of the then very complex architectural history are the main palaces of Sayil, Labná and Xkipché. One variant is the building with an L - shaped ground plan, the short leg was often added later.

Style structure and time position

After the construction technology, the quality of the stone processing and the decor of the exterior walls can be prepared by the American architect and archaeologist George F. Andrews distinguish six stylistic phases: Early Oxkintoc (Early Oxkintoc ), Proto - Puuc, Early Puuc (Early Puuc ), small columns style ( Colonette style), mosaic-style ( mosaic style ) and finally the limited only to the city of Uxmal Uxmal Late style ( Late Uxmal style ). The classification of styles by Andrews builds on the outline by Harry ED Pollock and extends it.

George F. Andrews assigns the stylistic phases in the following time periods:

  • Proto - Puuc from 550 AD
  • Early Puuc from 670 AD
  • Small columns style from 770 AD
  • Simultaneity of small columns and mosaic style from 830 AD
  • Later Uxmal style from 1000 AD.

The main problem is the approach of the Late Uxmal style because a vault capstone from the eastern building of the nuns quadrangle in Uxmal, which is attributable to that style, a date in the year 906 bears. Dating of buildings in the Puuc style by means of radiocarbon dating have not been able to contribute to a clarification, since so far be insufficient analysis and the confidence interval of 2 sigma (which is a probability of about 95 % means ) even with new measurements to 100 years is. Overall, however, the approaches of George F. Andrews likely to be 100 years too late.

Within a radius of at least 70 km around Uxmal can be found in many places, buildings with the structural characteristics of the Late Uxmal style that were (as opposed to Uxmal ) are all not completed. This fact is interpreted by various authors as an indication of political upheaval with the collapse of the local gentry in the countryside of Uxmal. However, there are also at Uxmal even a few unfinished buildings ( building on the top of the pyramid of the old woman, in the complex of buildings phallic temple ).

Another method for the chronological position of the Puuc culture is based on that found in excavations or on the surface of ceramics ( fragments ). The previous basic study on this comes from Robert E. Smith. Because of the long duration and insufficient breakdown of comprehensive Puuc culture Cehpech ceramic complex, the ceramic studies have so far not contributed decisively to clarify the chronology.


With the dismantling of settlements in Endklassikum is a complex process taking place in stages, with the task of construction of monumental architecture by the local upper class of complete depopulation was preceded by a long period of time. Causes may therefore not have been factors that would have equally affected all classes of society, such as epidemics or extreme drought. Rather, the limited performance of traditional agriculture with population growth has not kept pace and is aufschaukelde effect of ever shorter recovery times of the land and lower yields led to a uncontrollable with the given possibilities collapse of the entire order

Diagnostic characteristics of the phases of the Puuc style

The assignment of the diagnostic elements are here in reference to George F. Andrews. Rio Bec and Chenes styles are included for comparison. The subdivision of the Early Puuc style is inspired by William M.Ringle. of.

( ) To = intensity of occurrence