Xel ha Travel Blog› entry 29 of 39 › view all entries
April 6th, 2009 – by: geokid
Xel ha "inlet" is a small Maya site, south of the modern town of Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico and north of Tulum by approximately 11 miles on Highway 307. There are surviving Maya murals that should not be missed.
The area around Xel ha was first occupied prior to 400 BC by farmers and fisher people forming small hamlets. Xel ha grew into a locally important trading center by 100 AD. The first dwellings in Xel ha date from 400 BC through 400 AD and were not monumental, but consisted mostly of houses made of thatch and wood. Later, between 400-700 AD a more complex and organized society developed that began to create masonry buildings in the style of the Peten and Belize regions.
Xelha was one of several key ports controlled by Maya city of Coba; others included Tancah and Tulum. Tulum became a center of intercultural exchange between the Maya and other sea-navigating peoples between 600 AD and 700 AD. Spanish navigational records used Xel ha and it beacon as a navigational aid.
Between 700 AD and 1200 AD Xel ha had connections with other inner cities of central Yucatan. These ties are clearly displayed in the pottery and the styles of architecture of the site. From these periods until the arrival of the Spaniards in 1527, Xel ha became part of the province Ecab.
Mural 1 is a series of red panels which frame two scenes separated by a column which you can see the glyph "Ahau" which means chief or lord and is the name of a day. The composition includes two types of birds flying over a cage like building. One group of these birds belongs to a species of yellow parrots having short tails and yellow beaks; the other shows red birds with yellow wings, long tails and black beaks. This mural was done during the Early Classic (300 AD to 600 AD)
Mural 2 is divided into four rectangles. The first rectangle looks like a checkerboard with red, gray and yellow squares. The main motif is a huge anthropomorphic figure shown from the chest up and painted red, turquoise blue, white and yellow. The front view head is depicted with a headdress that has a horizontal strip with attached feathers and a spiral in the middle.
The El Palacio encloses the southeast side of the plaza. It is the result of several construction phases. The first is a rectangular base with rounded corners and sloped walls. There are two rooms that sit on this base. The west room has an entrance with two wide pilasters which form three door openings. The ceilings in both rooms were vaulted, but both are collapsed. Later two interconnecting rooms were added on the north side. The final construction phase is all of the rooms were walled over with large stones transforming the building into a large platform.
There are 2 cenote in the Xel ha archaeological site.
Xel ha was used as a base camp by Spanish forces, during the unsuccessful first expedition (1527 to 1528) led by the conquistador Francisco de Montejo (the Elder). Francisco de Montejo, had obtained a charter from the Spanish Crown in 1526 to pacify the Yucatán Peninsula. Francisco de Montejo and his small force crossed over from Cozumel and made it ashore at the at Xel ha lagoons.
Francisco de Montejo started establishing the first Spanish settlement on the Yucatan Peninsula. Francisco de Montejo named this new settlement "Salamanca de Xel ha" after his birthplace in western Spain.
In 1841, Stephens and Catherwood documented a stela dated 564 AD.
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