Featured Sites: El Tajín

El Tajín

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Tripart: 2006.017.799

Country: Mexico

Archaeological Site: El Tajín

Title: El Tajín

Culture: Totonac

Date of Photograph: 1969

Photographer: Dr. Brian Hayden

Time Period: Late Classic

Location: Mexico; Veracruz

Subject: Site

The site of El Tajín in the Veracruz region of Mexico consists of a core area of about 1 km² and several outlying settlements. El Tajín was first occupied during the Preclassic period, and was a major regional centre from AD 600 to 900. Known for their distinctive architecture, the buildingsat El Tajín incorporate a number of unique characteristics, including:Step-fret motif, a square spiral design.Flying cornices, upturned mouldings on the tops of buildings.Talud-tablero building construction, which is characterized by a sloping wall (the talud) with a flat table on top (the tablero) which extends slightly farther than the underlying talud section.El Tajín was a community dedicated to militarism, sacrifice and the underworld. This is evident in its many references to the ball game, which is linked to human sacrifice. There are over a dozen ball courts at El Tajín, as well as many stelae and sculptures that depict the game, its rituals and sacrificial victims. One of the structures at El Tajín, Building A, appears to have been designed to mimic a ball court. The interior walls were constructed on an incline to imitate the structure of a ball court, and access to the building is restricted to a tunnel-shaped stairway, perhaps representing the journey between Earth and the underworld.

Unlike many other Classic period cities, El Tajín did not collapse at the end of the Classic period but prospered well into the early 13th century.