Regional Picture
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            In summary, the early explorations of the northern half of Quintana Roo reached the numerous coastal sites from the sea. Stephens and Catherwood recorded several sites along the coast and heard of a large interior building [probably one of the pyramids at Coba] (Stephens 1843:280). After a hiatus of nearly 80 years, archaeologists of the Carnegie Institution of Washington prepared detailed reports of Tulum/Tancah and also of Coba, which they reached from Chichen Itza, not the coast.

            These early expeditions indicated that the coastal sites had a distinctive architectural style in the Postclassic, that Tancah and Xelha had earlier (Classic period) architecture, and that Coba was a Classic period site, with dated stelae and with many architectural traits of the Peten. Subsequent work (including González F. (1975), Benavides C. (1976b, 1976c, 1977, 1980b, 1981a, 1981b, 1981d), Benavides et al. (1976), Benavides and Robles C. (1976), Folan et al. (1977, 1982), Peniche Rivero and Folan (1978), Fletcher (1978), Kintz (1978), Cortés de Brasdefer (1981a, 1981b, 1981c), Folan, Kintz, and Fletcher (1983), Navarrete, Con Uribe, & Martínez Muriel (1979), Robles C. (1976a, 1976b), Folan (1977, 1978), Garduño Argueta (1976, 1977, 1979), Gallareta N. (1981, 1984), Sabloff and Andrews V (1985), Robles C. and A. P. Andrews (1985:60, 68), Manzanilla (1987), Fettweis-Vienot (1980), Robles C. (1977, 1980b, 1990)) both refined and added to these fundamentals. The work by Robles on the ceramics of Coba provided a more detailed chronology of Coba and indicated settlement began by 100 B.C. His work confirmed the very modest Late Postclassic occupation there, at a time when the coastal sites had become quite vigorous. By the time of the Spanish contact, a major portion of the population was clustered along the coast. Muyil, Tulum/Tancah, and Xcaret are all approximately the same distance from Coba (43-46 km — about two days walk over cleared trails), all have protected harbors and sea access, and all have architecture earlier than the Postclassic.

            In this context, we knew that Muyil had tall Peten-style pyramids and a sacbe. These elements parallel the Classic architecture of Coba and the Peten sites. In addition, we knew that Muyil had typical east-coast style temples of the Postclassic, plus a sea route marked by a Postclassic temple at its midpoint, Vigía del Lago.


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