Minecraft Maps / Complex

El Mirador (100 CE)

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Shalis Morthanien's Avatar Shalis Morthanien
Level 41 : Master Architect
First things first
I cannot make a perfect 1:1 scale for several reasons. Most of the structures at El Mirador have not (yet) been excavated and/or not been photographed. Also, the city is over 2000 years old and is therefore in a ruined condition (mainly due to the tropical environment). As such, I have to work with the few bits of data I can get my hands on. The few maps I have are not extremely detailed and the models and reconstructions are themselves also hypothetical representations of what it might have looked like. Moreover, different sources give different measurements, with height of structures being by far the most diverse.
Regarding the details of the buildings, many walls contained art, such as decorated panels and masks, of extraordinary complexity; the iconography of the Preclassic Maya was phenomenal. Yet with 1 block being 1 cubic metre, detailed art on buildings is almost impossible to recreate. This is just the nature of reconstructing a ruin with Minecraft.

History and description of the site
In northern Guatemala and southern Campeche lies a depression in the karstic landscape, surrounded by a ridge of hills on all sides. This area, called the Mirador Basin, has been one of the focal points in uncovering the development of the Maya before the so-called Classic Period (200 to 900 CE). Pollen records have indicated that this region was already occupied by horticulturalists as early as 2600 BCE. Real cultural complexity, however, did not start to develop until around 1000 BCE, when sedentary villages began to grow. By this time, cultures elsewhere in Mesoamerica were already developing on for example the Gulf Coast (Olmec) and in Oaxaca (Zapotec). Compared to their neighbours the Maya were relatively late, part of which likely has to do with the harshness of living in dense tropical forest. In the Basin, full-fledged masonry architecture would not begin until around 900-800 BCE, at sites like Nakbe and Yaxnohcah. Only a few centuries later another city emerged which would soon outshine its neighbours and become the capital of a regional state-level society.

The first monumental architecture at El Mirador was established somewhere around 600 BCE and the oldest part of the city seems to be the Cascabel group to the north, which may have functioned as a small necropolis for the city’s elite. Yet over the course of the following centuries, power seems to have been drawn from neighbouring regions and into El Mirador. Yet this crescendo must have been, at least to some extent, a regional-wide effort, because during this time a large network of raised causeways was built that connected cities far and wide across the Basin. Architectural programs at El Mirador soon swelled to monumental scales, with perhaps the most ambitious project being the construction of the La Danta complex east of the city core, starting around 300 BCE. Archaeological surveys have indicated that, apart from several structures later added on the first platform, the entire complex was planned and built in a single effort, requiring an estimated 8000 labourers to work for approximately 30 years. During the city's prime time (300 BCE – 150 CE) more and more monumental complexes, such as the El Tigre and Monos pyramids were constructed Recent LIDAR surveys have put the size of El Mirador at approximately 52 km2, providing a home for at least 100.000 individuals.

The economic drive behind this amazing human saga are the seasonal swamps - called bajos – located in the Mirador Basin. Instead of using (solely) slash-and-burn agriculture, the people of the Basin imported fertile muck from the swamps and placed it onto terraces where they farmed crops like maize, squash, beans, cotton, cacao and palm trees. Access to sustainable sources of drink water formed a major obstacle. Because the Mirador Basin lacks rivers and lakes, the inhabitants relied solely on rainwater. To counter this apparent shortage, the Maya used their architecture to capture water in large reservoirs; buildings, plazas and causeways were all paved with limestone cement (stucco), facilitating the runoff of water.
In the end, however, this ingenuity and the economic and demographic boom would become the main culprit in the collapse of the state. Stucco production is a very costly process, which requires the burning of limestone. The fires were fuelled with green, living wood to maintain stable temperatures required for the stucco production. With the demand for stucco exploding, deforestation became rampant in the region. Sediments, heretofore retained by the vegetation, eroded away by rain water and flowed into the bajos, covering the fertile muck with metres of sterile clay. This restricted access to the main source of agricultural productivity induced a regional wide demographic collapse. Other factors such as external threats are currently still under investigation. Defensive works, such as palisades, stone walls and moats, have been found at several sites in the Basin, suggesting at least some concern with physical threats. Many cities, including El Mirador, were abandoned around 150 CE.

In terms of cultural complexity and achievements of the Preclassic Maya, we should not see them as lesser developed than the Maya of the Classic and Postclassic periods. Many of the trairs appointed to the Classic period were already present in the Preclassic. New developments were made in the Classic and Postclassic period that outshine the Preclassic, just like outstanding developments in the Preclassic were never duplicated in subsequent periods.

Suggested reading
Hansen, R. D. (2012). The beginning of the end: conspicuous consumption and environmental impact of the Preclassic lowland Maya. An Archaeological Legacy: Essays in honor of Ray T. Matheny, 243-291.

Hansen, R. D. (2016). Cultural and environmental components of the first Maya states: a perspective from the central and southern Maya lowlands. The origins of Maya states, 329-416.

Suyuc Ley, E., & Hansen, R. (2013). El complejo piramidal La Danta, ejemplo del auge en El Mirador. In Millenary Maya Societies, Past Crises and Resilience (pp. 217-234). Mesoweb Paris.


The progress of the project
Pictures will be updated regularly after most new constructions. My way of working is rather chaotic, as I tend to switch back and forth between construction sites. This is just my way of working and thusfar everything worked out fine.

Structures/complexes that are preliminarily finished:
El Tigre Complex
Central Acropolis
Pava Group
Monos Complex
Cascabel Group
Puma Group
León Complex
Kutz' Group
Chicharras Group
Tres Micos Group, including South Acropolis
Kolomte' Complex

Structures/complexes that have yet to be completed:
Gavilan Group
Sanjol Group
Guacamaya Group
Danta Complex
Barba Amarilla Group
Tucán Group
Venado Group
Loads of other unnamed structures
The many causeways leading to and fro
The geographical and environmental setting (as far is possible)
The huge residential areas connected to the centre by causeways (optional)
La Muerta (optional)
Final comments
If you have questions, suggestions, or other comments, feel free to pm me or leave a comment on this page. A diamond, subscription or favouring would be very much appreciated!

Additional credits:
Soartex Fanver resource pack
Chocapic shaders
Progress40% complete

26 Update Logs

Update #26 : by Shalis Morthanien 12/14/2020 3:51:54 amDec 14th, 2020

New map version has been uploaded.
Please note that this map is still a work in progress.

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02/15/2019 12:39 am
Level 9 : Apprentice Miner
Goku23412's Avatar
Please Where is the Download

Por favor amigo, dime como puedo descargar tales hazañas arquitectonicas?
01/27/2018 8:55 pm
Level 1 : New Miner
jabberwockxeno's Avatar
I found you through Tlatoani's feed, your sttuff is great! Do you plan on doing all of Tikal rather then just Temple IV, or Palenque? I really love the Palace complex for the latter and the acropoli on the former, but obviously the entire ceremonial city centers for both would be ideal. I also have the same question regarding if you plan to do all of Teotihaucan eventually, though obviously that'd be a massive, massive undertaking, even bigger then Tlatooani's tenochtitlan project.

Also, if you don't mind me asking, do you intend to offer downloads of all your stuff? I know you do on some, for instance your Uaxactun stuff, but don't on others. Are those just the only ones you've finished or what? I'm a huge fan of Mesoamerican archtecture, and it's a personal dream of mine to be able to look around 3d reconstructions of these sites in VR, so being able to download the maps and just walk around them would be a real treat for me.

(Lastly, I'm SO glad I saw you say that there's major inconsstiecnes in the heights of structures at El Mirador: I have been trying to find out how tall the La Danta complex is for a while and have been baffled by how every time I look I seem to get different answers, glad to know I'm not crazy and other people have the same issue)
01/29/2018 9:29 am
Level 41 : Master Architect
Shalis Morthanien
Shalis Morthanien's Avatar
Thank you, much appreciated! Tlatoani's rendition of Tenochtitlan is the best I have seen thus far and I greatly admire his work.

Oh, to reconstruct the entire city core of either Tikal or Palenque would be great. If I had the time I would certainly consider it. Unfortunately I don't. That's why almost none of my larger projects are close to being finished. In the end I might just stick with what I have and call it quits (declaring e.g. my Monte Alban reconstruction as finished, without having finished all the structures and the geographical setting).
The geographical setting for Palenque will be a nightmare. The entire city is build on the slope of a mountain, consisting of platform after platform, terrace after terrace.
As for Teotihuacan, I think it would be less work, because one could just use a flat strip of land to build on. With Tenochtitlan one has to build in/on water and recreate all the islands and canals running through the city.

The single-structure projects like my Uaxactun acropolis, I have done because of my time limition. They are easy builds and are easy to make availble for download.
As for the downloads of the large projects I haven't considered it yet, simply for the fact that I like to offer finished projects and not just ones that are still under construction. However, for the same reason mentioned earlier, I might just wrap things up with what I got and add the downloads anyway.

Lastly, for the reconstructions I have to scour through many archaeological reports to find the exact dimensions and details of structures. That is time consuming work and in many cases hard to find or just plain unavailable for the non-archaeologist.
The height of the Danta pyramid is fairly well known; approximately 72 metres. However, buildings like the Cascabel Group and the Tres Micos Group are far less studied and for those I have to estimate/guesstimate the height.
So yes, for dimensions of buildings, scour through the archaeological reports and hope that you will find it.
03/25/2017 3:42 pm
Level 58 : Grandmaster Pirate
Refreshinq_'s Avatar
Looks really great and detailed
03/26/2017 3:32 am
Level 41 : Master Architect
Shalis Morthanien
Shalis Morthanien's Avatar
Thank you!
03/25/2017 3:37 pm
Level 46 : Master Toast
North Garms
North Garms's Avatar
0o0 very cool
03/26/2017 3:33 am
Level 41 : Master Architect
Shalis Morthanien
Shalis Morthanien's Avatar
Thank you!
10/09/2016 9:00 pm
Level 1 : New Miner
Troydor's Avatar
Awesome! I like how you are taking real life builds and putting them into Minecraft! This can really help for people who have to research of a place which they cannot go to, as they can download the map and explore! Great Job and keep it up :D
10/10/2016 6:01 am
Level 41 : Master Architect
Shalis Morthanien
Shalis Morthanien's Avatar
Thank you for your comment.
Personally I like this more than to free-build everything, because this gives me a clear end goal.

I am not sure if my projects offer any valuable insight ino these archaeological sites other than a basic idea of where the structures are located, in relation to each other, and what they might have looked like. However, I can barely make any detailed artwork given the ratio I use (1 block is 1 cubic metre). Therefore, only the structures themselves may offer a slight insight. Best research comes from either going to the archaeological sites themselves, or analyse the many archaeological reports on those sites (including photographs of the monuments and reconstructions if available).
03/16/2016 1:53 pm
Level 23 : Expert Architect
Zero_Percent's Avatar
Excellent work!
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