Posted by: Johan Normark | March 29, 2009

Sacbe 2 at Yo’okop

I was supposed to map Sacbe 2 at Yo’okop in 2003 as part of my dissertation on causeways. For various reasons this did not happen and the CRAS project did not work in the ejido of Saban for five years. We returned last year and my colleague Alberto Flores finally mapped Sacbe 2 in 2008 (I was busy locating caves and wells). I joined the final day of mapping and together with Dave Johnstone I mapped the terminus structure called Structure N25E6-3 at Xnicte (Group C). We already knew that Sacbe 2 is the single most interesting causeway known in the region. Here is a brief description of the causeway, seen on the left side of the picture below.

Sacbe 2B

Sacbe 2B

Sacbe 2 is currently divided into two distinct parts (Sacbe 2A and 2B). There is a small gap between the causeway segments indicating that there might have been a passage between them. The major northern portion (Sacbe 2B) is 1800 m long, sometimes up to 4 m high and 10 m wide. This part terminates at a pyramid that is built in alignment with the causeway. At the terminus the causeway runs across a large square platform but there is no plaza in front of the stairway of the terminal pyramid in Group C, Structure N25E6-3. The alignment of the pyramid is different from that of the major buildings in Group A and B that are 25 degrees east of north. The alignment of Structure N25E6-3 is instead 48 degrees east of north as is the angle of the causeway. The pyramid is 11 m tall from the causeway/pyramid intersection (seen below).

Xnicte (Group C)

Xnicte (Group C)

The south end of Sacbe 2B may originally have begun northwest of another pyramid, Structure N11E1-2. On the northwestern side of the causeway there are also two large platforms connected to the causeway. These platforms support smaller structures that may be of later Postclassic date. This arrangement with large platforms differs from the other causeways at Yo’okop.

Another segment of the causeway (2A) continues southwest from an area slightly northwest of N11E1-2. In this sense the causeway segment resembles the Xquerol causeway at Ichmul that also has a pyramid abutting one side of the causeway. Sacbe 2A continues with the same alignment as the larger northeastern section but is only 7 m wide. This 300 m long section continues towards the North Acropolis in Group B but never reach it. A small structure is located near the preserved southwest origin of the causeway. The southern segment is less well preserved and may have been built of less skilled laborers and/or at another date than the northern section.

Sacbe 2B is probably the oldest known causeway of the Cochuah region. It’s date is currently based upon the fact that it runs across an unusual subterranean passage with an Early Classic vault style. The 3 m high and 1.8 m wide vault is located near the two lateral platforms. The two entrances of the vault have partially collapsed but the passage is perpendicular to the trajectory of the causeway and hence built at the same time as the causeway. This suggests a late Early Classic date for the causeway. However, we do not know if the causeway is a one phase construction. An earlier, lower and less wide, causeway could potentially have connected Group C and the platform that the current causeway runs across today.

The subterranean vault

The subterranean vault

The fact that the pyramid at Group C is in a right angle with the causeway implies that the structure was constructed at the same time as the causeway. However, in-situ walls indicate a Terminal Classic Late Puuc style of architecture. Still, the original structure at Group C may date back to the late Early Classic. The establishment of Group C broke with the Late Formative settlement pattern and may indicate that the location was important (such as a preexisting cave).

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