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INAH archaeologists locate a Post-Classical Mayan village in Mahahual, Quintana Roo
Until now little was known about the presence of farming and fishing villages on the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, almost on the Belizean border. Photo: Archaeologist Fernando Cortés, National Institute of Anthropology and History, Quintana Roo.

Translated by: Liz Marie Gangemi

MEXICO CITY.- Amidst the mangrove and the jungle, experts from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have recorded a Pre-Hispanic settlement dating from the Mayan Post-Classic period (1200-1546 AD), which represents the first of that era detected in the locality on the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula.

The ancient village named by the specialists of the INAH Quintana Roo Center, as Mahahual has as a particularity a remarkable proximity to the Caribbean coast, for which, together with the fact that all the structures located at this time are of residential or water supply structures, it is theorized that the fundamental vocations of those who inhabited it were fishing and agriculture.

However, according to archaeologist Fernando Cortés de Brasdefer, a continuation of research work will be carried out at the site to find any indications of elite zones, or ritual or civic-religious areas, because the area prospected in the first stage of the study, was only 1.5 kilometers long by 450 meters wide.

“Up to now the settlement has a heterogenous network form which is a conformation interweaving paths constituted by family estates that gave origin to a large group of highly organized people”.

So, he explains, what the current inhabitants of Mahahual had believed were natural stone walls, in fact are constructions that bordered lands in whose interior were orchards and "small houses made of guano palm and mud walls built upon limestone platforms equal to the traditional houses built by the contemporary Maya”.

The surface tours carried out by archaeologists, at the request of the owner of the land, for which a tourism development project is planned, reveal to now an estimated 80 structures: most of them water-related habitational vestiges, man-made vessels to collect the vital liquid; and 'sartenejas' natural wells that were dug to reach aquifers.

The region on which the archaeological site is located also has cenotes, caves and caverns, as well as various elements that over time have accumulated there, for example, remains of a metal boiler, which is calculated to be from the Porfirian era.
Another peculiarity of Mahahual is that no additional objects such as ceramic remains, stone (lithic) or bone elements have been found. This could be explained by the fact that the site was occupied for a relatively short generational time.

For now, the researchers of the INAH Quintana Roo Center continue working with the research team and reports will be delivered to the Institute’s Council of Archaeology.

A copy of the file will also be made available to the individual who requested the inspection, together with pertinent indications in order to compel all those involved to further research, conserve and protect the archaeological heritage detected.

Fernando Cortés concludes that although Mahahual is not a site with large ritual structures it still is important because it provides new data revealing to which geographies of the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, closest to the border with Belize, the Mayans extended.

"We know little about the way of life of those who lived in this region; however, this survey reveals that they could have been farmers who complemented their diet with fishing. In addition, their direct access to the sea would have given them advantages to exchange commercial products with other coastal and inland peoples", he concluded

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