In Yucatán, it’s common to hear people say things like “you can’t put a shovel in the ground without bringing up old ceramics,” or “there are ancient temples everywhere.”
Strictly speaking, this is, of course, an exaggeration, but the sentiment is entirely accurate. There really is archaeological evidence of the ancient past just about everywhere if you know where to look.
This is even true in Mérida, which boasts 20 archaeological sites within its city limits and upwards of 50 archaeological reserves, according to the city government. Some of these sites may not be more than an unrestored mound, but others are quite impressive yet remain virtually unknown to the public.
One of the least-known of these sites is an architectural cluster of Mayan structures located just behind a pair of gleaming luxury condo towers in the Altabrisa neighborhood.
The site is so obscure that despite having visited and documented hundreds of archaeological sites, it had still eluded me despite the fact that I frequent the area often.
The archaeological site in Altabrisa does not seem to have an official designation yet. However, it is evident that the INAH — or at least municipal workers — are well aware of it and have conducted surveys of its structures.
But any data collected from this site has yet to be published, making it difficult to write about with any real degree of certainty.
Last June, at the request of a local boy scout troop, there was a one-time guided tour of the archaeological remains at Altabrisa. This fact was not widely publicized.
The one bit of information I was able to track down was a statement by the INAH claiming that the archaeological site was likely residential and part of a larger, long-destroyed settlement from the 3rd century BCE.
As no maps of the site layout have been published, I decided to make some measurements and use geotagging to put together a rough outline of the existing remains. However, much of it is under vegetation and hard to make out.
The archaeological remains are only observable by pushing through the shrub on Calle 22A, directly behind Country Towers.
The site itself is made up of several artificial platforms. Some feature multiple stairways and the remains of constructions atop their esplanades. In all, I could make out somewhere between 10 and 12 structures, with four of them being considerable size.
Likely the site’s largest structure appears rectangular and measures roughly 15 by 20 meters, or 50 by 65 feet. This is a guesstimate, as the vegetation surrounding the structure was thick.
If you go
A couple of sources have reported that there are plans in the works to make the site more accessible to visitors, but no details have been provided.
For now, visiting these structures means going into the bush, so long pants, long sleeves, and boots are a necessity. If you decide to visit, make sure not to move anything or disturb the archaeological remains in any way, as this could get you into serious trouble.
If you have any additional information about this very interesting spot, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.