The unusual and amazingly well-preserved winged warriors uncovered at the Mayan Ruins of Ek Balam are exciting for explorers who seek to investigate the mysteries of the Mayan culture.
Unlike Chichen Itza, which is about a 2 hour drive south, the temples at Ek balam were decorated in sculpted stucco rather than stone carvings. The artistic style depicting hair braids, lion cloth patterns and the skulls carved into the belts of the unusual full figured sculptures are unmatched anywhere else on the Yucatan Peninsula. These winged warriors bear a strong resemblance to the Hindu statues that decorate pyramids in Classical India.
One of the figure’s hands appears to be making a symbolic or ritual gesture that can be likened to a mudra commonly used in Hinduism and Buddhism meditations to carry specific goals for channeling the body’s energy flow. We even find Egyptian-looking glyphs decorating the walls of the temple but how would that be possible if these people never had contact?
Or did they?
The construction of Ek Balam predates Chichen Itza, and I believe some of it’s sublime features may provide evidence to support the global seafaring theory proposed by diffusionist academics and some alternative researchers.
The intricate detail of artistry and symbolism incorporated into not only the winged sculptures but the entire fresco that decorates the stucco burial tomb of Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’ (who ruled the city at the height of its power) at Ek Balam’s acropolis leaves us in awe every-time we visit.
The acropolis is the most striking temple and main attraction at Ek’Balam – with its length of 160 m, the width of 70 m and a height of 31 m this pyramid is definitely the biggest pyramid in the northern Yucatan peninsula, due to its volume and it remains one of the largest structures ever excavated in the Yucatan.
To maintain this preservation, much of the structure is covered in thatch to keep out sun and rain, and so the Winged Warriors are only visible once you climb up the structure. On a platform just before the top you will find the tomb of the powerful ruler, Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’ – where these spectacular winged figures can be found.
The entrance of the tomb is shaped into the mouth of a jaguar or as some academics have suggested a Witz monster. To the Maya this represents a portal to the ¨other world¨. The enormous mouth of the Witz Monster (entry to the underworld), complete with teeth, leading to the burial chamber is awe-inspiring.
The decorated facade found on El Torre is not the only unique feature we find at Ek Balam most striking temple. It’s use of multiple layers in the architecture is another characteristic that sets this structure apart.
But the first thing that attracts our attention at the acropolis is this sculpture of a snake head on the stairs of the lowest level. Its extended tongue is covered with glyphs. There are two of these hieroglyphic serpent stelae, both with inscriptions. I researched the glyphs on the tongue and have been successful in putting it all together to make sense of it.
It appears to be a warning message to interlopers or foreigners. Could these implications support diffusionism?
Decoding the Mayan Glyphs
The top level middle glyph reads “yute lee” meaning “arrival” in the Mayan language. On the level below we see glyphs that read “Uke Kaba” meaning “his name”.
Then we read “King of Kings” and the next row mentions Ek Balam’s ruler, “Ukit Kan Lek Tok”. Take note that “Kan” is also the word for serpent in the Mayan language. Something I find interesting as we decode glyphs found on the tongue of a serpent.
To the left of the bottom row we can see the emblem glyph for Ek Balam, meaning dark jaguar or star jaguar or even dark star jaguar.
It’s also interesting to note that Ek means “dark” but can also represent dirt or the dark soil. This could be a stretch of my imagination at work but it calls to mind how Km.t was the name of the land given to Egypt by it’s ancient people. Al Khem. This where we get the word ‘alchemy’ from. Km.t or Kemet meant the “black land” for the rich alluvial soul found along the nile.
If we reverse the K and the E we now have EK, which means dark dirt or soil and even star to the ancient Maya.
Global Seafaring Culture
My teacher, a master Maya teacher and venerated shaman, Miguel Angel Vergara, studied for 17 years with Mayan elder, Don Vincente Martin, who was a wisdom keeper, professional teacher, and artist. He is well versed in the indigenous tradition. While teaching me about the Cosmic Universities of the Maya he showed me what he believes is the image of an Egyptian Pharaoh hidden on the wall in a restricted area at Chichen Itza. Could the ancient Egyptians have visited the ancient Maya? Or did the Maya make a cameo in ancient Egypt?
Researcher and Khemitologist Stephen Mehler has an MA in Egyptology. He spent decades investigating the vast temples and structures of Egypt, and may have identified a connection between two of the most well recognized ancient cultures on the planet. In 1997, during a research trip to Egypt, he was shown an unusual symbol on the ceiling of a temple known as the Temple of Maya.
There appeared to be several circular symbols that bear no resemblance to Egyptian hieroglyphs. It is important to note that the word Maya in the ancient language means water and may have referred to a certain class of person in the Egyptian caste system very similar to a record keeper or scribe. This relief, when shown to an ancient Mayan wisdom keeper was confirmed to resemble some form of calendar system once held by the Maya.
Ek Balam’s Warning Message Encoded In Stone
The glyphs on the tongue of the serpent stele also refer to Ukit Kan Le’K Tok’ as the holy lord of Talal. From this the epigraphers and archaeologists have determined that Ek Balam was once part of the kingdom of Talal. We also see the “o ya ak” which means “it says” as to say “it says – all of the info above”. This is common to find at the end of a Mayan script.
In short the serpents tongue is sending a message to remind and warn outsiders and interlopers who arrive here that they are in the presence or home of Ek Balam’s powerful ruler. Certainly the locals were aware of his power. So then why the need for the propaganda? – unless of course the inhabitants of Ek Balam expecting visitors.
Ek’Balam is one of the most interesting ancient Mayan cities to explore, partly because it’s largely unknown to most tourists. If you are looking for an off the beaten path experience without the crowds this is it.
In addition to the carved winged figures and unusual facade on it’s most prominent temple, Ek Balam will mesmerize you with its amazing symmetrical structures, oval palace, unique four sided entrance arch way, sacbes, and ball court.
Excavating Ek Balam
Ek Balam has been known since the Spanish conquest of Yucatan in the 16th century but it was rediscovered in the 1800s. However, it wasn’t until the late 90s that archeologists accidentally stumbled upon the top of the acropolis and unearthed the winged warriors.
What I find most interesting is that the ceremonial center of Ek Balam is surrounded by two enormous structures that have not been excavated yet. The fact that the stucco reliefs found at the Acropolis were in such great condition make this one of the most spectacular Mayan ruins on the Yucatan peninsula, but it is the possibility of finding more well-preserved and perhaps unusual reliefs on those massive structures that draws my interest. What lies beneath?
Will future excavations performed on these buried structures reveal more unusual winged warriors or other well preserved artifacts? What more can we learn about the spiritual life of the ancient Mayas who came before Chichen Itza? What clues to our ancient past are waiting to be discovered?