Late Postclassic
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Late Postclassic (Chunchukum ceramic complex A.D. 1200-1550)

            During the Late Postclassic, the presence of Navula Unslipped ceramics and the virtual absence of Yacman Striated ceramics continues to mark the isolation between the coast and Coba (Robles 1990:263). Muyil has twice as many sherds from the Payil group as from the Mama group (red slipped Late Postclassic ceramics), another measure of this isolation, since the proportions are reversed at Coba. At Muyil, new activity is shown by additional construction of temples in the East Coast Style and by the construction of Sacbes 5 and 6 with Structures 11H‑1 and 12H‑1. New field walls criss-cross the landscape (see the map of the west transect and the map of Muyil Zone B.) Not only is the populace at the center of Muyil more densely crowded, but also new habitations are built at a greater distance from the site center. Neighborhood temples are constructed.

            After a 500-year hiatus, ceramic connections with Belize reappear. In the Late Postclassic, Chen Mul Modeled censers are found in not only at Muyil but also at several Belize sites — Barton Ramie, Cuello, and Uchentzub (Appendix 3). The trans-peninsula canoe trade which took on added importance after the Late Classic, knitted together widely scattered sites with the spread of an effigy censer cult.

            At Muyil, neighborhood shrines as well as Temple 8 and the temple-pyramids along the sacbes were used by the effigy censer cult. As described in Chapter 7, the changing political scene and the emergence of new levels of coastal trade may have involved a new equality of the terms "pilgrim" and "trader." Such a combination would account for the high levels of Chen Mul censers found along the Muyil sacbe system. I believe population at Muyil grew to be between 25-75% larger than in earlier times. This increase is documented in three ways: (a) by the presence of significantly higher numbers of sherds of unslipped utilitarian ceramics — more Postclassic Navula group sherds than Classic Vista Alegre sherds; (b) by the broader distribution of such sherds at Muyil; and (c) by the presence of new architecture and field wall systems associated with Navula group ceramics but not with Vista Alegre ceramics. On the basis of architectural development and similarity, as well as in ceramic affinities, Muyil played a significant role in the northeast Quintana Roo coast economic develop­ment activity of the Late Postclassic.

            During the Late Postclassic, Muyil closely resembles its neighbors along the north coast: Xelha, Xcaret, Playa del Carmen, and El Meco, for example. The extensive areas (more than 100 ha were mapped by Terrones, personal communication, 1990) of field walls at Calica (Xcaret) bear considerable similarity to those at Muyil in amount of land delimited, scattered structures in association, and general alignment. The East Coast Style architecture is present at all sites. Muyil citizens, still actively engaged in coastal canoe trade, extended the sacbe across muddy grasslands to the new, more easterly lagoon margin. Trader-pilgrims highlighted its importance in trade with rites that employed effigy censers. Coba, depopulated greatly at the end of the Classic, remained as a pilgrimage site, as did Chichen Itza, but was no longer a vital metropolis. As the peninsula fell into tribal regions, no single large site dominated the east coast. Tulum grew powerful in the latter part of the Late Postclassic, but, apparently due to perceived threats, was fortified with an immense enclosing wall. With the collapse of Peten sites half a millennium earlier, and the northern Maya lowlands politically fragmented into provinces, the stage was set for the arrival of the Spanish.


© Copyright 2000-2005 Walter R. T. Witschey   Page last updated Wednesday, April 02, 2008