ruined city of pre-Columbian Maya civilization in Guatemala

Piedras Negras is a Mayan archaeological site in Guatemala near the Usumacinta River. The site was a large city, known for its large number of sculptures.

Stela from Piedras Negras, carved in 662 BC
For other places with the same name, see Piedras Negras (disambiguation).


The archaeological ruins known as Piedras Negras (or Yo'k'ib' in the Mayan language) are on the eastern bank of the Usumacinta River, opposite the Mexican border in northwestern Guatemala. The site was one of the largest and most important of the Classic Maya period. It used to have many magnificent limestone sculptures, relief panels, and stelae, but most are now in museums.


Stela 36 dates from 667 AD

The history of Piedras Negras dates to at least the 7th century BC. The city grew steadily, peaking in population around 200 BC, and then declining for several centuries before increasing again to a second peak around the 8th century AD, at which time the city population is estimated to have been about 2,600 people. The city ruled over a large territory that comprised a population of about 50,000. Its thought the city once had alliances with nearby city-states, such as Yaxchilan.

The city had a large number of sculptures, many dating from the period 608 through 810 AD. A unique feature of sculptures at Piedras Grandes is that artists signed their works with unique glyphs.


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The archaeological site is inside the Sierra del Lacandón national park, in the Peten jungle. The easiest way to get there is probably via Chiapas Mexico using a boat on the Usumacinta River.

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