by Carlos Quintana
After years of haggling for the resources to have a new museum, with an investment of nearly 200 million pesos (+- 15,400 K.Dlls US) and almost six years in the making the Mayan Museum in Cancun was inaugurated by Mexican authorities in the early days of November, 2012. The original museum built in 1982, was closed after being badly damaged by several hurricanes; with important losses to it’s collection and building.
The museum, which is second in importance in Mexico with a collection of 3,500 pieces, is located at Km. 16.5 of Kukulcan Blvd. in Cancun’s hotel zone, adjacent to San Miguelito archaeological site on a sandbar between the Caribbean Sea and the Nichupte Lagoon. The museum’s main objective of is to exhibit objects found during excavations and research by the National Institute of Anthropology and History – INAH, in the northern region of Quintana Roo, where Cancun and Playa del Carmen are located.
According to government authorities “Over 100,000 people are expected to visit the Maya Museum and San Miguelito during the rest of the year while the number of visitors in 2013 is expected to exceed one million.”
The state of Quintana Roo, as an integral part of the Yucatan peninsula, played a very important role in everyday life of the Mayan people due to is proximity to the Caribbean. Today there are as of an inventory carried by INAH in 2011 approximately 1,500 archaeological sites with great importance due to its size and strategic location whether as religious, living, commercial and observation centers, in many cases also, small plateaus are found in the coast shores, this were used as day or night markers for sea voyagers. In the north of the state open to visitors there is El Rey, San Miguelito, El Meco, Xcaret, and XelHa and San Gervacio in Cozumel. Going further south Tulum, Coba, Muyil, Kohunlich, Dzibanche, Chacchoben, Oxtanka among others not open yet.
The site is construed mainly of several low structures probably for houses and one big ceremonial building for religious and or political gatherings.
This region belonged to the Ecab chiefdom. It’s chronology is situated in the late post-classic, 1,200 b.C. and 1,550 a.C. The population gradually dispersed and abandoned the area in the XVI century with the arrival of the Spanish to the Yucatan peninsula.
The main economic activities in this area were agriculture, fishing, production of milepona bees honey, salt, cotton, cocoa, chicle, copal, sea shells and animal meat and furs all products that were bartered for copper, onyx, silica, obsidian and jade with other communities from northern Mexico and Guatemala. The Mayas also used and still use extensible a tree called Ramon (Brosimum alicastrum) that provides wood, medicine from leafs and fruits used to produce flour for tortillas and gruel or atole.
Video in spanish of inaugural speech by Mexico’s President (22:37 minutes)
President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, November 1st, 2012