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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

INAH introduces a ‘new’ Mayan archaeological site to the world

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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.
A likely residential structure at Xiol is divided into several chambers and rooms similar to constructions at other Puuc sites such as Kabah or Sayil. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The archaeological site of Xiol will officially open to the public at the end of 2022, according to INAH.

The archaeological remains are in front of an industrial park in the municipality of Kanasín, in plain view from the highway. 

An aerial view of Xiol’s main ceremonial center in Kanasín’s industrial zone. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Xiol has been receiving a great deal of attention from domestic and international media outlets touting its recent discovery.

Headlines such as “Lost Maya city discovered in the Yucatán” suggest it suddenly appeared fairly recently. But in reality, the location of Xiol was documented over a decade ago and restoration work began back in 2018. It was completed the following year. 

The announcement that Xiol will officially be opening to the public comes as good news for Yucatán. But it should be mentioned that several of the state’s archaeological sites have yet to reopen since their closure in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Puuc-style site is made up of 12 restored structures, though an additional 76 have been identified under the region’s vegetation. 

Earlier: Discovering, or stumbling upon, the ancient city of Xiol

Aside from the main ceremonial center, there are two interesting structures on either side (roughly 100 meters or so) that likely served as elite residences. 

A large construction is currently being built just a few meters from a Puuc-style temple in Ixlu. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Also of note is the presence of 15 burial sites likely belonging to nobles of the region as well as a cenote inside the main ceremonial center. 

During excavations, large amounts of pottery and carved stone figures were unearthed.

In the Yucatec-Maya language, Xiol roughly translates as “spirit of man.” But this name was only recently given to this ancient site by INAH, as its original name has been lost.

This ancient Mayan city dates to the late classic period, which is to say from roughly 600 to 800 CE.

Given its relatively small size when compared to other ancient cities in the region, Xiol was likely a subject kingdom, perhaps even of T’Hó, or ancient Mérida.

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