Xel ha Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
February 10th, 2009 – by: geokid
Xelha "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 Xelha was first occupied prior to 400 BC by farmers and fisher people forming small hamlets. Xelha grew into a locally important trading center by 100 AD. The first dwellings in Xelha 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. These buildings formed closed plazas and also several elite residential structures.
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 Xelha 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, Xelha 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.
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 figure is wearing bracelets and necklaces. This composition is thought to have Teotihuacan style traits and dates from the Early Classic (300 AD to 600 AD)
The El Palacio encloses the southeast side of the plaza.
There are 2 cenote in the Xel-ha archaeological site. The larger of the two is toward the western edge of the ruins and has interesting ruin structures right next to it.
Xelha 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 started establishing the first Spanish settlement on the Yucatan Peninsula. Francisco de Montejo named this new settlement "Salamanca de Xelha" after his birthplace in western Spain. Francisco de Montejo planned poorly, soon the supplies he brought were inadequate for sustaining the venture. Francisco de Montejo attempted to trade with and raid neighboring Maya settlements for food. His settlement lost fifty men within the first two months to disease and starvation.
In 1841, Stephens and Catherwood documented a stela dated 564 AD.
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