Comalcalco Site Museum
The museum attached to the Coamlcalco archaeological site is one of the most extensive and so am devoting a separate post to it.
Comalcalco is quite unique in Mayan architecture in that they used manufactured bricks in the construction of the structures rather than local stone, sufficient amounts and quality which were lacking in the Comalcalco area. That in itself is still quite impressive. To manufacture millions of such flat bricks would have entailed as much work as to quarry the stone that was used in other Mayan sites.
I’m not an expert, in any way, about bricks but with a quick investigation the bricks used at Comalcalco seem to resemble what is known in Europe as a Roman flat brick – which continues to be used throughout Europe, in those areas where the Romans had dominated, to this day. The Roman bricks were fired as this made them less brittle and therefore less likely to break when used in construction.
That indicates that the Mayan bricks must also have been fired but it’s strange that they arrived at that conclusion when I’m not aware of any other sites where bricks were used. So we have one of those coincidences where inventions occurred in locations separated by thousands of kilometres independently from each other.
For some reason in what I’ve read the Mayan specialists don’t seem to be interested in this coincidence and there doesn’t seem to have been any investigation into the evolution of the brick created by the Maya, not to searching for any kilns that were used to produce so many in the first place.
Did the Maya just invent the brick for Comalcalco? Did they decide that natural stone was a better building material and therefore didn’t use bricks in major constructions again? Was there more labour involved in brick production that made it less cost effective? I haven’t a clue of the answers, can only come up with questions.
However, what it means is that the vast majority of the exhibits in the site museum at Comalcalco are of examples of decorated and inscribed bricks (more like tiles).
The inscriptions seemed to have multi-purposes; as a signature for accounting procedures; just for fun; as an artistic canvass; to draw plans of the construction and to have a record of what was decided; some even just look like random doodles when someone scratched marks on a brick whilst it was still soft and before going to be fired.
Hopefully, the slide show will provides a representation of what is on show in the museum.
If any further information is encountered about ‘The Brick and The Maya’ it will be added to this post at some time in the future.
How to get there;
The museum is on the pre-paying side of the ticket office to the main Comalcalco archaeological site – so it’s possible to visit the museum without visiting the site. It’s to the left as you enter the parking area.
Free, and open at the same time as the site itself.