Excavations at Yaxchilán (ya-shee- lan), on the banks of the Río Usumacinta, have uncovered stunning temples and delicate carvings. Spider monkeys and toucans are, at this point, more prolific than humans, and howler monkeys growl like lions from the towering gum trees and magnificent 100-year-old ceibas.
Yaxchilán, which means "place of green stones," reached its cultural peak during the Late Classic period, from about AD 800 to 1000. It's dominated by two acropolises that contain a palace, temples with finely carved lintels, and great staircases. Several generations ago the Lacandón made pilgrimages to this jungle-clad site to leave "god pots" (incense-filled ceramic bowls) in honor of ancient deities. They were awed by the headless sculpture of Yaxachtun (ya-sha- tun) at the entrance to the temple (called Structure 33) and believed the world would end when its head was replaced on its torso.
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