An archaeological survey of the Yucatan coast has yielded important findings about ancient Mayan ports and trade. A team of Mexican archaeologists that has been studying an area from Celestun in the west to Dzilam de Bravo in the north since 1999 reported that it has identified 500 archaeological sites hidden deep in the wetlands and mangrove forest, some of which are 2,800 years old.
The sites in question vary in size and importance, ranging from docks and watchtowers to larger ports with ball courts and temples. The largest site found to date in this area is called Tzikul and a harbor, ball court and a pyramid have been located to date. Artifacts such as pottery and beads have also been recovered and traced to other parts of Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras.
The sites are testimony to the importance of the Yucatan in the Maya trade empire and the links that its ports had with cities far inland such as Calakmul and Tikal or rival kingdoms in other parts of Mesoamerica, including Teotihuacan.
Yucatan’s Mayan treasures are still being revealed, shown here a stucco mask of Chaac, the rain god, in the Puuc artistic style.