Tomb Raider 20 Tid Bit
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Tomb Raider, I am adding a new section to my fansite called Tomb Raider 20 Tid Bit. I decided to re-blog this article I wrote when I explored the ruins of Tulum. Look for the first article for Tomb Raider 20 Tid Bit in about a week. For now, enjoy the article.
*Legend Timeline see author’s note at the end of this article
From a small child, father made sure I was immersed in ancient history. By the time I attended school, I had already travelled to numerous locations that my classmates could only imagine through the text in school books and film. It is true, how it kindled my inner flame for adventure, for ancient history takes on a new colour, a colour of excitement when you can see, touch, and smell the places legends once resided; the very surroundings my father introduced me to as a child. One place stands out among many. I would say Mexico holds a mystic all its own. I have found myself trekking through its lands on many occasions. One such Maya world is called Tulum, and their way of building and their city layout are much like the Incans developed their cities farther south. The ruins of Tulum are fascinating and a magnificent leap through the past. I know father found many mysteries in Mexico and was on to another one in Tulum before his untimely death. I know Natla is behind it, somehow. This journal is a technical entry about Tulum. If anything new arises, I shall write about it here.
I need to revisit Tulum before I travel to the temple in Bolivia in a few days. …
The high-point of the Maya civilization was the year 1000. Tulum was not only one of the last cities they built, it is also believed it was the center of the cult of the descending Maya god. The Maya city Tulum is a pre-Columbian ancient walled city in the Yucatan along the Caribbean coast, and close to Central America. It was settled by the Maya during the late Post-classical period around 1200 AD. Additionally, Tulum, which means walled city, was first discovered in 1518 by a member of Juan de Grijalva’s Spanish expedition team. Tulum is unique in many ways, however, one such thing that sets it far apart from any other Maya settlement is the fact it is the only known coastal Maya community. Additionally, it was one of the last cities built by the Maya and was a major trade route of the Maya world. Two of the most popular items they traded in were obsidian, which they traded from Ixtepeque in northern Guatemala over 400 miles away, and Jade. There was an ample amount of obsidian found at Tulum, so it is understood that city had a long reach in traded goods and popularity. Most of the chief trading routes over land and sea throughout Mexico converge at Tulum, and many artefacts have been found on the site from numerous areas of the country another reason indicating this was indeed the hub of trade.
Because of Tulum, being the hub of major trading, it contained many valuable items, as specified before, found from all the areas of the Maya kingdom and beyond, thus, making it a prosperous city with many riches to be secured. Hence, Tulum was protected by 16 foot tall stone walls that were 26 feet thick on the landward sides. On the sea side, there were sheer sea cliffs with the Castillo (the castle) sitting on a bluff overlooking the vast waters of the Caribbean, and securing the safety of Tulum. The high cliffs and walls not only served the Maya people well for protection against enemies, additionally, there were various watchtowers in the corners of the affluent city to further guard against invaders.
When you walk through the ancient stone gateway into the actual site, the spectacle of antediluvian, well-preserved buildings sprawled out in all directions is breathtaking. I can imagine at least 1200 people and all of them living and thriving here centuries ago. Imagine all of them in their traditional garb walking through their pathways, and living in their homes, observing their routines and cavorting in the markets; being here is like standing in a history book as are many archaeological sites such as these.
The prevalent structure nestled along the cliff top is called El Castillo (the castle). It is built with a pyramid style (not the Egyptian type which is far older and for different uses; more like the kind found in Chichen Itza or possibly of Maya construction, but with a strong Central Mexican influence, yet was host to a diverse culture including the Toltec people which may have lived there for a time) with a wide stone structure on the top and three tall, rectangular doors separated by two giant columns. I have walked along the Castillo’s edge that skirts the clifftop. The colours of the Caribbean were beautiful. However, the wind usually blows like a gale.
The surf far below breaks into a white froth on the rocks and sandy shore. The pounding sound of the waves and the crisp ocean air add to the beauty of this place. Or perhaps it’s my lust for the sea; I wondered was this what the ancient Maya set eyes upon all those centuries ago? Did they indeed watch for vessels of trades peoples and even enemies over these cliffs from the enormous Castillo walls? No doubt they did, and this is the place, when a small child, my imagination would dance and cultivated my intense thirst for adventure and the ancient world. The Maya also watched and tracked the sun and were mesmerized by the moon, as well. It brings their interests into a more profound perspective when you stand here on their little corner of the world and put yourself into their shoes.
Temple of the Frescos
After the sheer amazement of the Castillo, its architecture, and implausible view, I walked back down to a beautifully preserved structure known as The Temple of the Frescos. The above picture denotes this building. It had two levels and the entrance level was constructed of stone and spanned wide from end to end to form a low rectangle being the entire first floor of this building. The first-floor roof is supported by four stone columns. The second floor rises tall above the first and has a traditional Maya window, tall and rectangular in shape dominating the front face of the upper level. A most fascinating edifice. The frescos inside are some of the finest examples of Maya artwork ever recorded. If you look closely at some,you will find them coloured in bright paint. The Maya carried their love of bold colours into their exterior paint. They painted the outside of their temples brightly, only the centuries have worn most of the colours away. However, if you scrutinize some buildings, you can still detect the bright tones that clung to their stony surfaces through the centuries to allow yourself the indulgence of what they looked like when the Maya ruled these lands.
As with all the frescos that adorn this building inside they are conspicuously Maya representing their rain god Chaac and Ixchel, the goddess of weaving, women, the moon, and medicine. Additionally, numinous serpents are a common theme, as well. However, though there is an upper and lower gallery where the frescos adorn the walls, the Maya used the Temple of the Frescos as an observatory from which they tracked the sun.
Another interesting building is Templo Del Viento (Temple of the Winds) it is located in close proximity to the Castillo. The building and the rounded foundation it sits on are both made of stone. This structure does not boast in vastness. It is a trifling, square one room building with one window cut in the traditional Maya style, narrow and rectangular. It was dedicated to Ehecatl, the Maya god of the wind. Maya legend says the temple god guards the entrance to the bay at Tulum. As you can see, the contrast of the sea-air bleached stone against the cerulean waters of the Caribbean is breathtaking. It makes a stunning visual on its own, as are all of the Tulum ruins.
Dear reader, this article was written by Emma’s Quill; the owner and operator of this site. When a timeline is mentioned in regards to the archaeology articles, it is when Lara mentioned something in the introduction as in this one when she mentions needing to visit Tulum before her trip to the temple in Bolivia from Legend. In this case, she did not visit Tulum in the games, but the timeline was set for the sake of writing about the location. However, the article is academic and about real archaeology and is written as if Lara is narrating. Some of the archaeology papers on this site will be narrated by Lara, however, will be about the authentic facts surrounding any location from Lara’s adventures and more.