Mayan Culture of the Yucatan
Many families & communities are still holding onto their heritage passed onto them through generations. Plus, enabling them to live among an ever-changing environment within the Yucatan Peninsula specifically.
Mayan Culture is still used in many of the newer structures being built around the region. Playa Del Carmen and Cancun have been ever increasing in size over the past 20 years, and construction of residential properties, new All-Inclusive Resorts, and Theme Parks continue to be built at an alarming rate.
Of course, it is going to have an impact on the local Mayan Communities, who try to continue their normal way of life before the influx of Worldwide Tourism took over the region. However, the local Maya are very resilient when it comes to the adaptation of change.
Typical Maya can be clearly defined from the rest of the Mexican population because most of the Mayan Communities still hold onto their values from generations past. They also continue to teach their children of the importance of maintaining their traditions.
For any visitor to the Yucatan Peninsula, or any part of the region where many of the local Mayan town and villages are located. You cannot help feeling very humbled by the simple way of life the Mayan Culture have embraced their existence. Also, how they have overcome many of the changes within their areas and continued to survive has families and communities.
Mayan Culture and History can still be found in many areas of the Yucatan Peninsula, and many more remaining undiscovered in the dense Rainforest of the Yucatan. Of course, the most famous sites are visited by thousands of tourists each month.
The Mayan Culture is still observed around all these sites, and many Maya Communities provide local guiding within the Archaeology Sites. Besides, who could be more qualified to provide the history than the local people.
Of course, they have had to adapt by learning different languages. Which now helps to diversify their potential to earn more money for their families, by being able to guide any visitor to the Mayan sites.
Xcambo Archaeological Site, near to Merida, Yucatan
Xcambo is a Mayan Archaeological Site located approximately 40 kilometres North East of the city of Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
This Mayan site was a seaport, and one of the first producers of Salt. This is due to the proximity of the coastal area, and the swamp like region which it was built.
Numerous offerings have been found at the site during excavations, and it has been considered a Sacrificial Site by historians. Many of the ceramics found are foreign, which also indicates the site was used for trade during its occupancy.
The “Temple of Crosses” and the “Temple of Sacrifices” are clearly defined within the site, and Xcambo has been well preserved.
Uxmal Archaeological Site, South of Merida, Yucatan
Uxmal was built around the style of Puuc which is evident in the front roof crests, columns, vertical friezes, and mosaic forming masks.
The House of Birds & Quadrant walls of the Nunnery are splendid examples of the intricate carvings surrounding Uxmal’s principle buildings. Carvings depicting the gods Sun & Rain are evident in the Masks found in the Quadrant of the Nunnery, and the Two Headed Jaguar in the centre.
The ball court (pok ta pok) at Uxmal is like the one located at Coba, and various types of ball game are found in all Mayan sites. Although games where deemed a social and entertaining aspect of Mayan history, somewhere played as sacrificial rituals.
Edzna Archaeological Site, East of Campeche, Campeche
Edzna is approximately 50 km’s southeast of Campeche city and represents Mayan Architecture of the Puuc period.
The site was developed over different periods, made evident by the Great & Little Acropolis. Plus, the structure; The Platform of the Knives, named after many flint blades, where found at the site.
The Palace or Building of Five Stories dominates the site, which overlooks the Main Plaza and NoHoch-Na in the distance. The main plaza is divided by two sacbe (white roads), which is located the Ballcourt (Pok to Pok) to the South.
Edzna was mainly an agricultural site with many canals and irrigation channels providing water for thousands of settlers. The earliest form of reservoir can be found around the site of Edzna.
Edzna is also surrounded by a large moat, obviously for defensive purposes, which at its height must have housed thousands of occupants within its surroundings.
Palenque Archaeological Site, State of Chiapas
Palenque is an amazing site located in the foothills of Chiapas, standing on stepped terraces, sloping walls, tall roof crests, and adorned with “stucco” masks.
The Temple of the Inscriptions houses a funeral chamber, and other two room temples consist of the rear room being used as a shrine. Mural paintings are still evident at Palenque, with the pictures
showing human beings, mainly priests & warriors, with varied costume and ornaments showing rituals & ceremonies. The colours are still vibrant from centuries of harsh climate surrounding the fertile valleys of Chiapas.
The Temple of the Sun epitomises the true splendour of architecture the Maya’s possessed, and inside the temple consists a carving of a Solar Panel, and the figures of two principal rulers of this historical city.
Tonina Archaeological Site, State of Chiapas
Tonina is located central in the state of Chiapas.
There is belief that Tonina conquered neighbouring Palenque which eventually led to its collapse, and around the 7th century there was a change in dynasty from the Lineage of the Underworld to the Snake Skull – Jaguar Claw.
Much of Tonina was occupied over numerous periods, and there is evidence that the tombs within the site where reused. Many of the stucco’s have eroded over time, but the “Grecas” are still visible on the right side of the Palace of Grecas & War.
Midway up the site to the right is a frieze showing the capture & torture of King Kan-Xul whom was the son of Pakal. The many maze like structures on different levels, with the highest being 76 metres (249.3 ft), make Tonina a truly amazing experience to visit.
The above Mayan sites can be explored very easily by car and overnight stays in some of local towns. Plus, you will also experience true Mayan Culture & Cuisine in the hotels and restaurants of the regions you stay.
For me and my family the road trips we have embarked on have been breath-taking, humble, and fulfilment with the knowledge of the local Mayan Communities we encountered.
It is heart-warming to know that the Mayan Culture is not disappearing. It is strong and thriving in an ever-changing world, and may it continue for eternity.
You can find some amazing books to read on the History, the Prophecies, and Predictions of Mayan Culture.
- The Aztec, Inca and Maya Empires: The Illustrated History of the Ancient People.
- Maya Civilization: A Captivating Guide to Maya History and Maya Mythology
- Mayan Civilization: A History From Beginning to End.
- Jungle of Stone: The Extraordinary Journey of John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood.
- Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans for Children | Ancient Civilizations for Kids.
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