Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Vol. V. , No. 3. Preliminary Study of the Prehistoric Ruins of Nakum, Guatemala. A Report of the Peabody Museum Expedition 1909-1910

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Author: Alfred Marston Tozzer (1877-1954)

Year: 1913

Publisher: Peabody Museum Press

Place: Cambridge


139-201+[22 plates] pages with with folding map, photographs, maps, figures, illustrations, drawings, bibliography and index. Folio (14" x 11") bound in original publisher's wrappers. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Vol. V. , No. 3. First edition.

Nakum  is a Mesoamerican archaeological site, and a former ceremonial center and city of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the northeastern portion of the Petén Basin region, in the modern-day Guatemalan department of Petén. The northeastern Petén region contains a good number of other significant Maya sites, and Nakum is one of the three sites forming the Cultural Triangle of "Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo". Nakum is approximately 17 kilometres (10.6 mi) to the north of Yaxha and some 25 kilometres (15.5 mi) to the east of Tikal, on the banks of the Holmul River.[1] Its main features include an abundance of visibly restored architecture, and the roof comb of the site's main temple structure is one of the best-preserved outside Tikal. This city has evidence of occupation dating from the Middle Preclassic period of Mesoamerican chronology. For the most part of the Classic period, Nakum appeared to be subordinate to Tikal. Nakum particularly flourished during the Late Classic (c. 8th century—10th century), due to its strategic situation north of Holmul river which was an important trade and communication route during this era. All the visible architecture belongs to this period, there are 15 stelae, Structure A with a triadic top, form along with structure C an astronomical complex. Structure V has vaults and vertical walls. Outside Tikal, it shows the largest corpus of ancient Maya script graffiti in a Classic Maya site. Nakum reached its apogee in the Terminal Classic period and might have achieved political independence around this time. However, it was abandoned soon after its apogee. The site today known as Nakum was re-discovered in 1905 by Maurice de Périgny. He referred to it as Nacun. Since then several archaeological and restorative expeditions have been conducted at the site, including a Peabody museum expedition in 1909-1910  and an official restoration by Guatemalan authorities which commenced in 1990. The site of Nakum may be divided into two main sectors, North and South, connected by a causeway named after Perigny. The Northern sector contains many impressive buildings, but it has been comparatively little investigated. The Southern sector is larger in extent, and contains the main Acropolis together with 11 patios and several classes of structures, including a 44-room "palace" (known as the D building). In the center of the southern complex is another elevated Acropolis which provides a clear overview of the other important structures. This latter Acropolis contains the building known as Structure Y, which by its location can be presumed to have served as the main residential complex for the site's main ruler.


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