Entry
Short Takes: The Bridge to Yaxchilan.

Short Takes: The Bridge to Yaxchilan.

Friday, January 11, 2013 | | Short Takes

Most people don’t know that the longest bridge in the world, until 1377, was not in Rome, China or the Middle East. It was in the Central American Mayan city of Yaxchilan.


Bridge Rendering Short Takes: The Bridge to Yaxchilan.

Yaxchilan Bridge reconstruction courtesy James O’Kon PE

Most people don’t know that the longest bridge in the world, until 1377, was not in Rome, China or the Middle East.  It was in the Central American Mayan city of Yaxchilan.

The bridge over the Usumacinta river, would have been the longest bridge discovered in the ancient world, dating from its construction by the Maya civilization in the late 7th century. It was a suspension bridge with a more or less level deck.

James O’Kon, an engineer and author, describes the bridge in his new book “The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology”. In his book, O’Kon describes the bridge as necessary for the functioning of the ancient city, located in an oxbow of the river.  The tropical river seasonally varies in height by as much as 40 feet, leaving the city isolated on an island for up to half the year.

 Short Takes: The Bridge to Yaxchilan.

Yaxchilan map courtesy Google

It has been speculated that the Maya solved this urban transportation problem by constructing a 100-meter long suspension bridge across the river in the late 7th century. The bridge which featured three spans extended from a platform on the grand plaza of Yaxchilan crossing the river to the northern shore. The 63 meter center span remained the longest in the world until the construction of the Italian Trezzo sull’Adda Bridge in 1377.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • more Short Takes: The Bridge to Yaxchilan.


pix Short Takes: The Bridge to Yaxchilan. About the author
 Mark English, AIA, Founder and Principal of Mark English Architects, has been working in San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area since 1992. His designs reflect of resourcefulness and efficiency to create high-quality residential design.


Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge
Read previous post:
The Joy of Mentoring a High School student: The Build San Francisco Institute.

The Architectural Foundation of San Francisco has created the Build San Francisco Institute, a half day high school program for...

Close