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No. 105: May-Jun 1996

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A Picture Speaks Louder Than Words

We hardly need more than the accompanying drawing to amplify our brief item (in SF#103) on that remarkable 7th. Century Mayan suspension bridge at Yaxchilan, in Mexico. Its three spans stretched 600 feet. The wooden deck was 10 feet wide and was suspended by large-diameter hemp ropes - probably bundles of six 1-inch ropes, according to modern calculations. The towers of the two bridge piers were 35 feet across and built up from large, flat stones (4 x 4 feet) set in bedrock. European engineers did not build a larger bridge until 1377! The following reference contains much more information.

(O'Kon, James A.; "Bridge to the Past," Civil Engineering, p. 62, January 1995. Cr. S. Jones)

Mayan suspension bridge at Yaxchilan The precocious Mayan suspension bridge at Yaxchilan. Temples and other city buildings in background.

From Science Frontiers #105, MAY-JUN 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss