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Tulum Archaeological Site

Tulum Archaeological Site

 

 

 

 

 

Description of Tulum Archaeological Site

Location: Yucatan Peninsula

 

Tulum Archaeological Site is Mayan walled city that served as port for the nearby city of Coba. Its name means "the wall" in Mayan. However for the ancients it was known as Zama or "Dawn" due to its eastern location. Standing on 39 feet (12 meter) cliffs it overlooks the Caribbean sea. Based on numerous murals and inscriptions this city was also an important cultural site of worship of descending or diving god. No name of the deity survives today. The present site was established no later than 6th century AD. However most of stone buildings that survive are from the Post- Classical Mayan period between 1200 and 1450. The site was occupied then the Spaniards landed on the shores of the New World . Even though the site was abandoned by the late 16th century Mayans came here to burn incense and worship their ancestors as late as the 20th century.

 

 

 

History of Tulum

Tulum might have been called Zama, meaning City of Dawn, because it faces the sunrise. Tulum stands on a bluff facing east toward the Caribbean Sea. Tulúm is also the Yucatán Mayan word for fence, wall or trench. The walls surrounding the site allowed the Tulum fort to be defended against invasions. Tulum had access to both land and sea trade routes, making it an important trade hub, especially for obsidian. From numerous depictions in murals and other works around the site, Tulum appears to have been an important site for the worship of the Diving or Descending god.

Tulum was first mentioned by Juan Díaz, a member of Juan de Grijalva's Spanish expedition of 1518, the first Europeans to spot Tulum. The first detailed description of the ruins was published by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood in 1843 in the book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. As they arrived from the sea, Stephens and Catherwood first saw a tall building that impressed them greatly, most likely the great Castillo of the site. They made accurate maps of the site's walls, and Catherwood made sketches of the Castillo and several other buildings. Stephens and Catherwood also reported an early classic stele at the site, with an inscribed date of AD 564 (now in the British Museum's collection). This has been interpreted as meaning that the stele was likely built elsewhere and brought to Tulum to be reused.

Work conducted at Tulum continued with that of Sylvanus Morley and George P. Howe, beginning in 1913. They worked to restore and open the public beaches. The work was continued by the Carnegie Institution from 1916 to 1922, Samuel Lothrop in 1924 who also mapped the site, Miguel Ángel Fernández in the late 1930s and early 1940s, William Sanders in 1956, and then later in the 1970s by Arthur G. Miller. Through these later investigations done by Sanders and Miller, it has been determined that Tulum was occupied during the late Postclassic period around AD 1200. The site continued to be occupied until contact with the Spanish was made in the early 16th century. By the end of the 16th century, the site was abandoned completely.

 

 

Map of Tulum Archaeological Site

Tulum

 

Great Temple Castle (Tulum Archaeological Site)

 Great Temple Castle (Tulum Archaeological Site)

Temple of the Frescoes (Tulum Archaeological Site)

 Temple of the Frescoes (Tulum Archaeological Site)

 

 

 

 

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