The Site and its Setting

Bonampak is a Classic Period Maya site, located in the modern state of Chiapas, along the Usumacinta river. It is most notable for the magnificent murals discovered in structure 1 (see below). However, other features attract a growing number of tourists to the site every year, including its remote location, jungle vegetation, and abundant wildlife. Click the photo to the left to view some of the structures and monuments from Bonampak.

Bonampak Room 1

Most scholars agree that the three rooms of structure 1 are to be viewed in a chronological order (beginning with room 1 and ending with room 3). The principle theme of room 1 is the presentation of a child (possibly an heir to the throne of Bonampak) to the court. This presentation is accompanied by great celebration, including dancers and musicians.

Bonampak Room 2

Room 2 depicts a battle in which the lords of Bonampak defeat enemy warriors. This probably followed the ceremony depicted in room 1. The purpose of this battle was to gain captives for ritual human sacrifice. Sacrificial victims are prominent in the murals on the north wall of room 2.

Bonampak Room 3

Against the background of an outdoor pyramid, room 3 depicts the self-sacrifice of the Lords of Bonampak following the great battle shown in room 2. This fulfills the elaborate rituals that began with the presentation of a new heir in room 1.

Back to Mesoamerican Photo Archives