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In the Yucatec-Maya language, Dzilam roughly translates as “the strong-willed warrior.”
But the might of Dzilam, now known as Dzilam González, has long faded, giving way to a tiny and rarely visited community.
The archaeological remains found in Dzilam González were first documented by the renowned explorers John Loyd Stephens and Frederic Catherwood in 1843.
Just before the conquest, the archaeological remains in the community of Dzilam González belonged to a large kingdom with its capital in Izamal.
The best-preserved section of this once-majestic temple is a wall on its eastern side, which unrestrictedly faced the backyard of a modest home.
Surrounding Structure 1, several contemporary structures are built out of the temple’s stones.
Another large surviving structure in Dzilam González can be found sandwiched between homes and businesses on an adjacent street.
Structure 2 in Dzilam González is even more neglected than Structure 1 and is often found littered with garbage.
That said, the remains of a handful of architectural features can still be gleaned from Structure 2.
While ruined temples in the countryside are not exactly rare in Yucatán, one thing that makes the case of Dzilam González particularly disturbing is that lotting of its ancient treasures appears to continue to this day.
An investigation into the theft of carved stones from structures in Dzilam González is underway, according to INAH. Local sources tell us that the removal of these archaeological artifacts occurred during daytime hours by men in city-owned pickup trucks.
Spread throughout the community, it’s possible to spot the remains of stelae, though these fragments are terribly eroded.
The story of Dzilam González’s cultural heritage is one of neglect and theft. Here is hoping that this most recent spate of incidents will finally move the community and state/federal authorities to take real action.
If you go
Most people who visit Dzilam González do so coming from communities like Espita or Tizimín on their way to the coastal town of Dzilam de Bravo, less than 10 miles north.
Though trying to piece together what ancient Dzilam must have looked like in its heyday is no easy task, it is well worth it, especially for those with a keen interest in archaeology.
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.