Colossal Head

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Colossal head at Izamal
Colossal head at Izamal.




The Getty Research Institute, the Internet Archive


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Izamal, at the height of its prosperity, must have been one of the most important of the Indian cities of Yucatan. There is abundant testimony to prove that it was inhabited at the time of the Spanish conquest. There are still remaining several mounds, one of which is the largest in Yucatan, but so dilapitated and disfigured, as to defy accurate measurement: it may be about seven hundred feet long and sixty high. It is said to contain interior chambers and colossal statues; but no entrance at present exists to these subterranean apartments. The great church and convent of the Franciscan monks stands on the upper platform of one of these ancient teocalli, and the open area fronting the church is probably not less than two hundred feet square, surrounded on three sides by an open colonnade, forming a noble promenade, overlooking the modern city of Izamal and the surrounding country to a great distance. On the side of a mound about two hundred feet long, and which formerly had stone and stucco ornaments from one end to the other, is the Colossal Head—perhaps of some deity—represented in the plate: it is seven feet eight inches in height, and seven feet in width. A stone, one foot six inches long, protrudes from the chin, intended perhaps for burning copal on.

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