Survey purposes
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            One of our major objectives in all three field seasons at Muyil was an accurate survey of all structures. In our first field season, our objectives were:

            (a) to acquire detailed information about the site center and its structures; 

            (b) to locate with precision the structures on the sketch map (1) of Michel Peissel (1961:286);

            (c) to determine the limits of the site; and

            (d) to acquire elevation data about the structures and the terrain for contour mapping.

              During the 1987 season, we surveyed the structures at the site center, and we located the structures on Peissel's sketch map (1963:286), with the exception of a structure that we believe was destroyed in the 1960s, and we acquired good elevation data for the major structures. We were unable to complete our mapping of Muyil A, the 38-ha protected zone, in 1987. In the 1988 field season, we completed a detailed survey of an additional 15 ha in the protected zone and a reconnaissance, also within the protected zone of the areas we were unable to survey.  We also completed a survey of Muyil Zone B, a 2-ha area located 2 km NNE of the main site.

             In the 1990 field season, we completed our detailed survey of the 38-ha Zone A, and we surveyed a 200-m-wide transect running due west of the site to learn more about the settlement in the vicinity of the site center.  Our intentions to survey three additional similar radial transects were frustrated by the refusal of local ejidatarios to grant us passage over their lands.

            We established our site maps from the datum point of the original survey prepared by Raphael Cobos P. in 1979.  His survey began at the east edge of the pavement for the Cancun-Chetumal highway (Federal Route 307), on the center line of an unpaved road leading from the highway ESE to the Muyil lagoon.  Cobos assigned this point the coordinates ( X=0, Y=200.) This point and other major corners of the Cobos survey are marked with truncated pyramidal concrete markers about 50 cm high.  Three of his original four markers adjacent to the coastal highway (INAH-1, INAH-7, and INAH-9) had been displaced, probably by vehicles, prior to our 1987 field season.  We nevertheless located and verified all points of the 1979 survey, and both the Cobos survey and our own use the same coordinate system. 

            The coordinate system recognizes the positive X direction as east, the positive Y direction as north, the negative X direction as west, and the negative Y direction as south.  All survey points are given in X-Y coordinates measured from the datum.  Thus, not only survey points but also structure corners and test pit locations are on the same grid coordinate system.  For convenience, each hectare of the surveyed area has also been assigned a number-letter label for purposes of reference and the assignment of structure numbers.  The 100-m x 100-m grid square whose lower left corner has coordinates (0,0) is labeled 5E.  Grid square numbers increase in the positive X direction (east) while letters increase in the positive Y direction (north).  Any point on the site may be referenced by its site coordinates, for example (250,450), and structures are often additionally referenced by their grid square number and letter followed by their structure number within the grid square, such as Structure 9K-13 (a large platform to the northeast of Temple 8). We often mention the more common names for several of the better-known structures, such as Temple 8, the Castillo, the Entrance Plaza Group, and the Great Platform. Table I gives a cross-reference of these common names and their structure numbers.

Table I Structure name cross-reference


Mason & Spinden





Structure 1, Main pyramid

Structure 8I-13

the castle


Structure 2, platform

Sacbe-2, Sacbe-3

front apron of the Castillo

El Centro, Muyil Centro, and subterreneo

Structure 8, Pink Palace with underground temple

Structure 9K-1-1st Structure 9K-1-2d

Temple-8, Casa Rosada

temple of double columns

Structure 6, small temple

Structure 7H-3

Postclassic temple in the Entrance Plaza Group, Temple 6

[mapped as double temple with common wall]

Structure 16, high palace on mound

Structure 8J-4


sunken room, sunken chamber

Structure 18, thick-walled palace

Structure 8I-1

sunken room on the Great Platform


Structure 20, palace

Structure 8I-2

Great Platform

small temple by savanna

Structure 25, temple with large idol

Structure 12H-1, eastern end of Sacbe-6

temple in the cocos


Structure 14

Structure 8K-8

platform west of Temple-8

platform and shrine

Structure 11, platform with stelae

Structure 9K-14, Structure 9K-23 (shrine)

platform with large side-wall stones

[not mapped]

Structure 7, platform with two oratories

Structure 9J-1



Copyright 2000-2008 Walter R. T. Witschey   Page last updated Thursday, April 03, 2008