Posted by: Johan Normark | May 20, 2010

El Pilar – Tz’unun, Pilar Poniente and Kum

Five and six months ago I wrote two posts on El Pilar, a site where I worked in 1998, 2000 and 2001. I said that I would write two more posts on that site but I forgot all about it. Anyway, here is the third post.

East of Nohol Pilar lies the plazuela group known as Tz’unun where I excavated in 1998. It consists of five main structures surrounding a 30 by 40 meter large plaza. The plaza is roughly one meter high and contain three perishable structures (structures 3,4 and 5). On the southern end of the plaza stand Structure 1 which was a masonry structure with five rooms, mainly accessed from the north-facing front doorway. The plazuela group’s eastern shrine (Structure 2) had an outset staircase on the west side. On the top stood a u-shaped open-sided structure. Several caches of pottery vessels were found in the central stair and two individuals were found in one looted tomb. Just north of Tz’unun lies a small winged structure similar to EP7 but of modest size. Most interesting of this structure and at some other structures at El Pilar is that it is partially constructed of chert nodules.

Interior of Structure 1 at Tzunun

On the western side of El Pilar, in Guatemala, lies two monumental groups called Pilar Poniente  and Kum. Pilar Poniente (mapped in 1994) was once thought to have been connected with Nohol Pilar by two sets of causeways. My survey in 2001 located only one causeway and one 125 m long linear feature which originally was thought to be one of two parapets framing a causeway. This linear feature also ends at a low hill east of Pilar Poniente. The monumental architecture which is located on a steep hill consists of a smaller version of EP7 called PP1, which is roughly 12 m high from the main plaza. This heavily looted temple is almost exactly 1000 meters west of its ”twin” pyramid. It has the same alignment but on its south side there is a large platform. West of this platform lies a sunken ballcourt which is larger than the one south of EP7. Overlooking the main plaza on the south side lies a couple of small elite residences. 

Kum is a secondary minor center, three km northwest of Plaza Copal, and 2.5 km from Pilar Poniente. It was originally mapped in 1998. The site is located on fairly flat ground and is dominated by a 10 m high structure which have been severely looted. We visited the site in 2001 but could not find any evidence for the ramp/causeway that had been indicated on the earlier map. We made some additions to the map in 2001. There are several house mounds to the west of the monumental structures. Huge plazuela groups were spotted on the way to the site’s northwestern boundary of the reserve but we had no time to map these.

The final post will deal with the Bryan and Murphy causeway at the site, the reason why my dissertation work focused on causeways. However, the dissertation thesis dealt with other causeways further to the north.


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