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New archaeological discovery sheds light on a centuries-old conflict

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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.
Maya combatants built countless structures during the Caste War for use against the Mexican state. Photo: Courtesy

Archaeologists in Pisté, Yucatán, have discovered the foundations of two structures dating to the Caste War

The Caste War (1847–1901) was a revolt of the native Maya people of the Yucatán Peninsula against the dominant socio-political class, made up of peoples of European ancestry.

The conflict is generally acknowledged to have ended in 1901 when the Mexican army occupied the Maya capital of Chan Santa Cruz and subdued neighboring areas.

A mural by Fernando Castro Pacheco housed in Mérida’s Placio de Gobierno represents Maya warriors and their families during the Caste War. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Both of the newly excavated structures show evidence of ancient Maya materials used in their construction, as some of the stones contain iconographic or hieroglyphic inscriptions.

The practice of using building materials from ancient structures has been historically common in Yucatán, and only really came to a stop in the 20th century.

Earlier: A new way of looking at Yucatán’s famed Chichén Itzá

On the outskirts of Chichén Itzá, Pisté is no stranger to archaeological discoveries. 

“We know from textual sources that the town of Pisté was the scene of multiple skirmishes between the 1850s and 1880s, but it’s, of course, wonderful to now have solid physical evidence,” said INAH archaeologist José Francisco Osorio León. 

The remains of these structures were discovered during the construction of a new park and cultural center.

Similar military garrisons used by Maya peoples during the 19th century can be found at several locations on the Peninsula, including Yaxcaba and Hopelchén.

In Hoplechen it is possible to see structures built during the Caste War by both sides. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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