Oxkintok Travel Blog

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Oxkintok "Three Flint Suns" is in the northern Puuc Hills, 2 miles east of Maxcanú, or 38 miles south of Mérida on Federal Highway 180, Yucatán, Mexico. Latitude 20°33'40" North by Longitude 89°57'11" West. Oxkintok is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
. The admission fee is 85 pesos.
 There were no facilities at this site on my last visit. However, the guard did sell cold soft drinks. Prepare yourself with food and water.

The ruins sit on a fertile plain at the edge of the hilly Puuc region and may have been connected to Uxmal by a sacbé. The area of Oxkintok was first occupied prior to 500 BC. Occupation of Oxkintok began in the Pre-Classic period prior to 300 BC and continued until some time after 1500 AD.
The hieroglyphic inscriptions found at the site contain dates, some of which are the oldest known in Yucatan. The dates indicate that the city had its peak importance between 475 AD (on the lintel of Structure 6 in the "Canul" group)to 859 AD. Hieroglyphic inscriptions show some of the oldest dates known in Yucatán.

The style is of mixed architecture of Early, Late and Terminal Classic techniques. Some structures are constructed with slab-vaulted masonry which is an indication of the Early Classic to Early Late Classic periods. Many quadrangles groups contain structures with veneer masonry that was introduced at the end of the Late Classic and developed during the Terminal Classic period. Some archaeologist think of this site as a transition from traditional Classic Period architecture to Puuc Veneer masonry style.
Oxkintok also exhibits a type of "talud-tablero" veneers which is thought to be an influence from Teotihuacan in Central Mexico.

The most popular and oldest structure at Oxkintok is the "The Labyrinth", Tzat Tun Tzat, Mayan for labyrinth or place in which one may be lost. Built in three levels on top of each other, its interior forms a maze of long, narrow rooms, with vaulted ceilings, connected by small doorways and narrow staircases. A grave found in this structure included a jade mask. On the floor of the crypt werepainted symbols of power and authority, leading some archaeologists to believe it was the burial place of a great lord. It has been speculated that it might have served as a mausoleum, or represented the three levels of the Mayan world-view, or may have been built as a man-made cave.
It is easy to get lost as you wander through the rooms. This structure is also noted for the anthropomorphic columns. These columns are of Late to Terminal Classic age. They were sculpted to represent nobles, warriors, deities and possible ball players. These columns are thought of as a potential precursor to the “warrior columns” of Chichen Itza and Mayapan.

Oxkintok had a ball court, on my last visit is had not been restored but some excavation had taken place. A fragmented ring with a hieroglyphic inscription was discovered during excavation.

Very near the ballcourt is what is believed to be a sweet bath. It is believed that ball players and pregnant women used sweet baths for physical and spiritual purification and cleansing.

There have been numerous Chultuns (cisterns) discovered through out the ceremonial and residential precincts. Chultuns of Oxkintok were bottle-shaped receptacles of immense capacities, ranging from 1,000 to 18,000 gallons.

Some other important structures are the "May" group, which consists of 3 structures and the "Canul" group with 4 structures.

Many of the artifacts found during digs at Oxkintok are on display at the Museum of Anthropology in Mérida. Located on Paseo de Montejo at Calle 43, the museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Sundays from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Museum admission is $39 pesos.

Only about 1.5 miles away are the Calcehtok Caves. The name is derived from the Mayan words CAL (neck), CEH (deer) and TOK (stone), a carved deer was found at the site.
In some publications these caves are referred to as the Xpukil caves. These cave have a long history of serving the local population. During the Caste Wars they provide secretive shelter for the Mayan people. Archaeological evidence shows that Calcehtok Caves were also in use at the time of Oxkintok was developing into a city. Many artifacts have been found in these cave, including quartzite hammers, obsidian arrowheads, animal bones, ceramics, and human graves. Access to the caves are by guided tours only. When I was last there rates were 200 pesos per hour for a small group. Do not be afraid to bargain. Calcehtok Caves are a large complex of over 30 connected sections. The guide service offered 4 different tours of varying lengths. These tours can be rough, so be prepared with good shoes and a good attitude.
The Calcehtok Caves are the most adventure-oriented of the caves along the Puuc Route. There are 2.5 miles of passages open to the public. You must be willing to squeeze through narrow passages, navigate slippery pathways, and crawl through muddy tunnels. Bottom line, you will get dirty and work a bit to see the stalactites, stalagmites, natural formations, and Mayan artifacts. I also recommend a head lamp of your own. To get to the caves, follow the signs on Highway 184. If there is not a guide waiting in the parking lot, just wait for a while. He is with another group in the cave. Never enter this or any cave without a guide.

In 1842, John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood visited Oxkintok and explored "The Labyrinth". The Carnegie Project, under Edwin Shook spent a short time at Oxkintok. Beginning in the 1980s a long-term project directed by Miguel Rivera Dorado has produced much knew information about Oxkintok. The INAH has invested in excavations and reconstructions at the site under the direction of Ricardo Velasquez.
roadtrampz says:
Had a look through your blogs; What amazing travels!
Posted on: Feb 25, 2009
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photo by: geokid