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Dzibilchaltún is set to reopen after nearly 6 months

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
The sun shines directly through the arch of the Temple of the Seven Dolls at Dzibilchaltun, in Yucatan, as it rises on the spring equinox. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Dzibilchaltún is set to reopen to the public on Thursday, according to a press release by CULTUR. 

The archaeological site has been closed since June when a group of protestors from Chablekal blockaded the entrance.

The dispute traces back 62 years when the protestors allege that the INAH illegally expropriated their ejido lands and declared them federal property.

“Dziblichatún belongs to us because it belongs to the Chablekal’s ejido. We will not move until our grievances have been addressed,” said an ejido leader, Manuel Aban

Under Mexican law, all archaeological sites are considered federal property and are run by the INAH, the agency in charge of safeguarding Mexico’s heritage. 

Though the blockade was clearly illegal, both the state and federal governments decided against removing the protestors by force. This is likely due to the poor optics of having armed police or military officers remove indigenous people from a pre-Hispanic archaeological site. 

The conflict has apparently been resolved, at least for now, with mediation from Yucatán’s state government. But the exact nature of the arrangement has not been disclosed.

There has been no word on whether Dziblichaltún’s popular onsite Xlacah cenote will also reopen to the public. The open-air cenote has been closed to the public since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Dziblichaltún’s reopening in time for Mexico’s largest tourism industry trade show, the Tianguis Turístico Mexico, comes as good news for Mérida as the city prepares to host this massive event for the first time.

The event is scheduled to take place at Yucatán’s new International Convention Center over three days beginning Tuesday. 

Dziblichaltún is one of the most-visited archaeological sites in Yucatán with an average of well over 30,000 annual visitors before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020

Frustratingly for tourism officials, Dziblichaltún was one of the relatively few archaeological sites in Yucatán given permission to reopen during the pandemic, as it has large bathrooms and is fairly large and allows for adequate social distancing. 

Located roughly halfway between Mérida and the port city of Progreso, Dzibilchaltún is the site of an ancient Maya city settled in the third century BC — placing its foundation in the era referred to by archaeologists as pre-classical. In the Yucatec-Maya language Dzibilchaltún means “the place where they wrote on stones.”

The Temple of the Seven Dolls is the most famous structure in Dzibilchaltún. The temple received its name when in the 1950s archaeologists discovered seven small figures buried within the structure.

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