The Hidden Coastal Culture of the Ancient Maya
November 7, 2018 8:04 AM   Subscribe

For thousands of years, ancient Maya kings ruled a vast inland empire in Mexico and Belize. But just how inland was it, really?

Vista Alegre, a ruin of a town near the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, was once a bustling outpost. Dozens of canoes crowded the harbor, loaded down with dyes from the west, jade from the south, and obsidian from mountains hundreds of kilometers away. The sound of trumpeting conch shells periodically sliced the air—an alert from sentries scanning the horizon from platforms attached to stone structures. The call signaled an incoming boat—to trade or, perhaps, to plunder.

posted by poffin boffin (6 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tulum (Spanish pronunciation: [tuˈlum], Yucatec: Tulu'um) is the site of a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city which served as a major port for Coba, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.[1] The ruins are situated on 12-meter (39 ft) tall cliffs along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.[1]

This is a stunning place on the peninsula and was crowded with visitors when we were there. It is near Coba, another stunning ruin. My favorite was Uxmal, though it's not as popular as Chichen Itza.

BTW, great post.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:35 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


There was an excellent museum show on this several years back: Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea. The book is still available.
posted by Miko at 10:00 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


Tulum is fantastic and beach below the settlement is gorgeous
posted by supermedusa at 11:09 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah Tulum playa is effing amazing, as is the Biosfera to the south. Always curious about to what extent the Maya used the cenotes for travel.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:52 PM on November 7


I've been following the developments in the field, as the depiction of the Maya has moved away from an exotic notion of "Isolated temple complexes in the jungle" to a vibrant, active empire encased in farming and trade. This is very important in decolonializing the narrative of the Maya.
posted by happyroach at 4:16 PM on November 7 [3 favorites]


When I visited back in the early 2000s the guide mentioned that Tulum was the only Mayan ruin right on the ocean. I immediately thought "no way in hell." And I was right!
posted by lstanley at 10:34 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


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