Nearby Sites
Home Up Architectural Styles Masonry Structures Settlement Pattern Nearby Sites

 

            As we compare and contrast Muyil with nearby sites, we find it has a distinct character of its own, notwithstanding numerous points of similarity with other sites.

            At Xelha, (Canché M. 1992: Figure 2) there are several intrasite sacbes. Like the Muyil sacbes, these roads are used to connect major groupings of civic/ceremonial architecture at the site, and to provide access to the water's edge. Similarly at Muyil, Sacbes 2 and 3 link the Castillo area with a trio of pyramids and other structures near the modern highway, including the Entrance Plaza Group. To the east of the Castillo, Sacbes 1, 5, and 6 link the center of Muyil with a temple close to the edge of the Muyil lagoon (Structure 12H-1). At Xelha, intrasite Sacbe 1 connects Group B - Lothrop with Group C - House of the Jaguar. Sacbe 3 at Xelha provides access from the main portion of the site to the Xelha inlet. At Xelha there are numerous field wall systems in the vicinity, and they demonstrate the same kind of patchy rectilinearity, without being survey-straight, as one sees at Muyil. They also have a general orientation several degrees clockwise of the cardinal compass points.

            At Xelha there are a number of traits which do not appear at Muyil. Among these are carved stone serpent heads at the ground level of sloping balustrades (like those of the Castillo at Chichen Itza, but far smaller.) Muyil has one sloping balustrade (Temple 8 platform) but no evidence of any balustrade sculpture.

            Tancah has several points of similarity with Muyil, especially the very close likeness of several Tancah structures (particularly Structure 12) to the tall vertically-faced stepped pyramids at Muyil. At Tancah, Group A (Sanders 1960: Figure 1) has two temple-pyramids facing each other east-west across a plaza with a central altar. This arrangement, identical to that of the central plaza at Tikal, is found at Muyil at the north end of the Great Platform (but with lower pyramids). The two structures at Tancah are more similar to the pyramids in the Entrance Plaza Group at Muyil than they are to those on the Great Platform. These tall pyramids at Muyil and Tancah are similar to two structures at Chamax on the coast.

            Group A and Group B at Tancah are ceremonial areas with different periods of use. Group A has ceramics from the Protoclassic and Early Classic, then little until its reuse in the Postclassic. Group B has an abundance of Late Classic Puuc Slate ware (absent from Group A), followed again by Postclassic material (Sanders 1960:169-172). At Muyil, we have a similar situation for the Entrance Plaza Group (which produced Formative and Early Classic material, but little Muna Slate or Ticul Thin-slate, and for the Temple 8 precinct, which has an abundance of both. Both areas at Muyil also show heavy use during the Postclassic. There is no adequate survey of the field walls in the vicinity of Tancah for comparison.

            Tulum bears virtually no resemblance to Muyil. At Tulum we find an imposing enclosing wall with watchtowers, ramparts, and portals, and colonnaded residential structures arrayed along both sides of a broad avenue (Lothrop 1924: Plate 25). None of these features are present at Muyil. It is true, however, that a number of the masonry structures in the East Coast style are similar to those at Muyil. Furthermore, there is present in the ceremonial precinct of the Castillo of Tulum, a central altar with steps on two sides, as is found in front of Temple 8 at Muyil. There are no instances of the modeled stucco 'Diving God' as found at Tulum (see Lothrop 1924: Figure 22), Coba, and Sayil. The Castillo at Muyil does have niches in the upper temple which may once have contained modeled stucco figures. Peissel recovered one stucco figurine at Structure 12H-1, the temple in the grasslands. Muyil does not have any serpent columns as found at Tulum and Chichen Itza. Outside the walls of Tulum, there are extensive areas of field walls arrayed along the higher ground. It is in this primary respect that Tulum and Muyil bear a similarity to each other.

            Tancah, Tulum, and Xelha are all of a similar size to Muyil. When one attempts to compare Coba with Muyil (and the other sites) sheer size alone makes the task difficult — Coba is two orders of magnitude larger. (The Great Platform at Coba is three times larger than the nucleus of Muyil!) Coba has 50 intra-site sacbes (and two intersite sacbes — one to Ixil of 20 km, and one to Yaxuna of 100 km). Its ceremonial architecture is of the most imposing scale. Ball courts and carved dated stelae are found at Coba, but not at Muyil.

            It is when we look at the residential configurations at the two sites that comparisons become more reasonable. Folan et al. (1983:94-101), in their discussion of linear features (walls, sacbes) at Coba, establish a typology of six categories. Their Type-I walls are associated with platforms, and abut the platform at two points, or surround platforms and ancillary structures, or connect a platform to an ancillary structure to form a partial enclosure. At Muyil, the walls of Structure 8J-6 and perhaps to the west of Structure 8K-25 are such an example. Folan's Type-II walls link residential platforms with each other. See platforms 8K-25 and 8K-7 at Muyil for an example. Folan's Type-III features are walkways that provide access to natural resources (water, sascab). At Muyil, Sacbes 5 and 6 are examples of such construction. Folan's Type-IV features link platforms to major sacbes. Muyil has no such examples. Folan's Type-V features are sweeping open-ended walls with one end connected to a platform. Examples at Muyil include the walls connecting to Structures 7I-29 and 10K-8. Folan's Type-VI features are walls on platforms, and they are found at Muyil, including on Structures 9K-14, 9K-25, and 9J-1. Although excavations may often distinguish single-wall from double-wall construction, only a single field wall of single-wall construction was excavated at Muyil.

            Thus, although the arrangement and the type of ceremonial architecture gives Muyil its unique character, we find that in the non-elite residential areas near the site center, and in the more remote areas containing field walls plus an occasional house mound, Muyil is rather like its neighbors. It is the lack of Mexican elements, such as are found at Xelha, and absence of remains earlier than the Postclassic at Tulum that distinguish Muyil most sharply from these two neighbors. It is the lack of a significant Postclassic occupation at Coba which, in addition to the factors noted above, distinguishes Muyil from Coba.

 

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