Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations


Category: Articles, Maya

There are few Prehispanic sites in Mexico where the natural environment is as singular as the archaeological monuments, and such is the case of Muyil, an ancient Maya city located 20 minutes away from Tulum and 1 and half hours away from Cancun. This is one of the 20 archaeological sites found in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

Muyil takes its name from one of the 2 nearby lagoons, Muyil and Chunyaxche, and represents one of the best-conserved environments of the protected reserve, making it interesting for visitors who want to combine nature and history.

The visit to the Maya settlement that reached its peak in the Late Post classic period (1200-1521 AD) begins in the area known as Entrance Group, where the first constructions’ conjunct is located, conformed of pyramidal bases, temples, altars and platforms. A small building named by archaeologists Structure 7H3, draws attention. It is conformed by a double temple with an interior shrine, where stucco and red, black and Maya blue mural painting rests can still be observed.

When following the paths that get into the abundant vegetation, one reaches a 17 meters high temple known as the Castle, in which top there is a temple that looks like a small tower, making this a very atypical structure for the region. “This is the taller and most important structure in Muyil, which top building has a circular shape. We do not know yet what function it had, but it might have represented the sacred Maya tree, the Ceiba. This tree has thorns over its trunk, and the stones that project from the wall might have represented them,” commented Carmen Trejo Alvarado, researcher at Quintana Roo INAH Center. The Castle has 2 altars; in one of them, INAH archaeologists found in 2002 an offering conformed of a great amount of tinny beads made out of greenstone and shell. “This finding is important because the humid environment would not let bone rests endure, so there is little material that would contribute with data about the ancient inhabitants of this region” declared the specialist.

According to Carmen Trejo, Muyil was an important point of the Prehispanic coast commerce, activity developed by sailing the Caribbean Sea and the 2 lagoons, “which connected sea and inland”.

The Sian Ka’an area was decreed a biosphere reserve in 1986; since then, INAH and environmental authorities have worked together to protect both the ecosystem and the archaeological vestiges.

Muyil is located 22 kilometers away from Tulum and 150 from Cancun; it is accessed by the 307 federal highway. It is open 365 days a year, from 8:00 to 17:00 hours. Children under 13, senior citizens, physically challenged persons, teachers and students with valid ID do not pay. On Sundays, admission is free for Mexican and residents.

Source: INAH

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