The archaeology of Muyil, Quintana Roo, Mexico: A Maya site on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula


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Muyil (Chunyaxche), Quintana Roo, Mexico, is a 50-ha ancient Maya site on the Yucatan peninsula that was among the first to be occupied on the east coast. Field research was conducted there between 1987 and 1991. The 32,000 sherds and artifacts analyzed are dated to all periods between the Middle Formative (350 B.C.) and the Late Postclassic (A.D. 1550). No Spanish artifacts were found The site is on the karstic shelf (elevation 8 m) around a natural limestone collapse with Caribbean access by a 15-km route through freshwater lagoons and creeks. Architectural remains include temple-pyramids to 17+ m high, shrines, oratories, roadways, large residential platforms, small house mounds, and areas of extensive field walls Ceramic analysis includes a factor analysis of sherd types by excavation unit, and a seriation of the resulting factors to suggest a ceramic sequence for Muyil Muyil was settled before its closest large neighbor, Coba, one of the largest Maya sites known. Muyil then participated in Coba's development between the Late Formative and the Late-Terminal Classic. Like Coba, Muyil has associations with Belize in the Early Classic, and with the Puuc region in the Late-Terminal Classic. Like Tulum/Tancah and Xelha, Muyil is 45 km from Coba and has canoe access to the Caribbean. The modest numbers of Chichen Itza ceramics at Muyil are comparable to the proportions at Xelha and Coba, although Xelha has numerous Chichen-style architectural elements and Muyil and Coba do not. Dzitas Slate appears after the onset of Muna Slate at Muyil and then runs concurrently with it in low proportions in the Terminal Classic In the Postclassic Muyil grew, and large peripheral areas were crossed with field walls. Muyil participated in the Late Postclassic east coast resurgence--fragments of Chen Mul Modeled censers are abundant An analysis of sacbes and shoreline changes show that the local Maya probably extended their first sacbe to accommodate the eastward retreat of the lagoon shoreline. Sea access played a critical role in all periods at Muyil Muyil was depopulated at the time of the conquest and lay abandoned until the nineteenth century. Modern reports first appeared in 1926

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