Ek Balam Archaeological Site

Ek Balam



Location: 51 km (32 mi) North- East of Chichen Itza Map

Open: 8am- 5pm

Entrance Fee: USD $4


Description of Ek Balam Archaeological Site

Ek Balam or "Black Jaguar" in Mayan language is a Yucatec- Maya city located just 30 km north of Valladolid in Mexico. Ek Balam achieved power and importance during Late Classical period between 600 and 900 AD when large pyramids and ceremonial structures were build here. Fertile farmlands that fed the citizens of the city went into decline with worsening climate. At the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century only a small fraction of the original population still lived here.


Acropolis or El Torre (Ek Balam Archaeological Site)

The Acropolis is the largest structure at Ek' Balam and contains the tomb of Ukit Kan Le'k Tok'. It measures 146 meters across, 55 meters wide and 29 meters tall.


The Oval Palace (Ek Balam Archaeological Site)

Entrance Arch (Ek Balam Archaeological Site)

Ball Court (Ek Balam Archaeological Site)

The "Twin Pyramids" (Ek Balam Archaeological Site)


Stella which depicts a ruler of Ek Balam, probably Ukit Jol Ahkul.

The two unexcavated structures (Structure 2 and Structure 3) which are located to the East and West of the Acropolis and are the 2nd and 3rd largest at the site.


History of Ek Balam

Ek' Balam was occupied from the Middle Preclassic through the Postclassic, although it ceased to thrive as a major city past the Late Classic. Beginning in the Late Preclassic, the population grew and the city expanded throughout the following periods. It eventually became the capital of the polity that controlled the region around the beginning of the Common Era.

At its height from 770 to 840 CE, Ek' Balam provides a rich resource of information for understanding northern Classic cities, due to the poor preservation of many other notable northern Maya sites (e.g. Coba, Izamal, and Edzna). It was during this height that the Late Yumcab ceramic complex (750-1050/1100 CE) dominated the architecture and pottery of Ek’ Balam. The population decreased dramatically, down to 10% of its highest, during the Postclassic period as Ek’ Balam was slowly becoming vacant. There are several theories to why it was eventually abandoned and to the degree of haste at which it was abandoned.

Ek Balam is mentioned in a late-sixteenth-century Relación Geográfica, an official inquiry held by the colonial government among local Spanish landowners. It is reported to have belonged to a kingdom called 'Talol', founded by an Ek' Balam, or Coch Cal Balam, who had come from the East. Later, the region was dominated by the aristocratic Cupul family.