Machaquilá refers to a ruined city of the
Maya civilizationin what is now the El Petendepartment of Guatemala. There is also a small Guatemalan village several kilometers from the site that bears the name Machaquilá.
Machaquilá flourished in the middle Classic to late Classic era, reaching the height of its power in approximately the ninth century CE. [cite web|url=http://www.famsi.org/reports/01050/section04.htm|title=Ninth-Century Stelae of Machaquilá and Seibal|author=Just, Brian|publisher=FAMSI|date=2007|accessdate=2008-01-18] The archaeological remains of the city are located 45 km. northeast of
Cancuénand 30 km east to Ceibal, in a relatively isolated region, and the site is notable for its finely sculptured stelas, religious altars, hieroglyphpanels, and ornate staircases. There are nine plazas in Machaquilá, along with ceremonial buildings, temples, and a residential complex to the south.
There are several smaller cities surrounding Machaquilá and the nearby
San Miguelcaves. [cite web|url=http://mayacaves.org/about|title=Mesoamerican cave archaeology|author=Vanderbilt Upper Pasión Archaeological Cave Survey|publisher=Vanderbilt University|date=2007|accessdate=2008-01-18] There is evidence of human habitation at the sites dating from the the pre-Classic to the early post-Classic periods. The Guatemalan sites known as Esquipulas, El Pueblito, and Achiotal have E-Groups and Mesoamerican ball courts, although Mayan scholars do not believe these sites were part of a formal state. There is evidence of political and trade relationships between El Pueblito and Machaquilá during the late Classic period, and with Ceibaland Cancuén. [cite web|url=http://mayacaves.org/about |title=Mesoamerican cave archaeology |author=Vanderbilt Upper Pasión Archaeological Cave Survey|publisher=Vanderbilt University|date=2007|accessdate=2008-01-18] Mayans likely used the Machaquilá River as a waterway, as it is one of the main tributaries of the Pasión River.
Archaeologists in 2004 uncovered at Machaquilá a hieroglyph panel from a royal ball court that depicts Taj Chan Ahk, the 8th-century king of the ancient Maya city-state of Cancuén. [cite web|url=http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/04/0423_040423_mayapanel.html|title=Archaeologists Uncover Maya "Masterpiece" in Guatemala|author=Markey, Sean|publisher=National Geographic|date=2004-04-23|accessdate=2008-01-18] Carved in detailed
high relief, the stone depicts the king seated on an Earth-like symbol and throne with a jaguar skin, installing subordinate Machaquilán rulers. [cite web|url=http://exploration.vanderbilt.edu/text/index.php?action=view_section&id=600&story_id=152&
title=Inscriptions_found_at_a_1000-year-old_sacred_ball_court_provide_insights_into_the_Maya_civilization] However, even during periods of nominal subordination, the rulers of Machaquilá exhibited a significant degree of political
autonomy. [cite web|url=http://www.famsi.org/reports/01050/section04.htm|title=Ninth-Century Stelae of Machaquilá and Seibal|author=Just, Brian|publisher=FAMSI|date=2007|accessdate=2008-01-18]
To visit Machaquilá as well as the other sites, such as San Miguel and the Ceramic Caves, visitors must first travel to
Poptún, as the bus routes are the same for both locations. [cite book|title=Guatemala |author=Noble, John and Forsyth, Susan|publisher=Lonely Planet|date=2004|page=p. 242|accessdate=2008-01-18] Other historical sites of interest in the area include the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología(National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology) and the hunting preserve known as Las Delicias.
List of Maya sites
* Lisi, Albert. "Machaquilá: Through the Mayan Jungle to a Lost City". New York: Hastings House, 1968.
[http://research.famsi.org/whos_who/people_list.php?site=Machaquila List of known Machaquilán rulers]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.