Xpujil is an archaeological site in the south of the Mexican state of Campeche, within the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, and within the limits of the contemporary town of the same name.
In the Yucatec Mayan Language, Xpujil means cat’s tail, though this name likely makes reference to a local curling species of vegetation rather than to felines themselves.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Xpujil was likely first settled during the Early Classic period, sometime in the 2nd century CE. However, most of the constructions at the site date a little later to a period spanning the following centuries.
Architecturally, Xpujil exemplifies Río Bec architecture, especially when it comes to the site’s most important edification, complete with three ornate towers. Xpujil’s towers are not unlike those found in other ancient cities such as Dzibilnocac and Hochob, though on an even grander scale. Aside from its great towers, note its roof combs and elaborate zoomorphic facade.
After centuries of lying abandoned, Xpujil was rediscovered by American archaeologists Karl Ruppert and John Denison in the late 1930s. Detailed illustrations of the site were soon after created by the trailblazing Russian archaeologist Tatiana Proskouriakoff.
Given its architectural features and location near Xpujil’s main ceremonial center, structure II was likely the residence of the cities elite. It sits upon a raised artificial platform and has several vaulted rooms, most of which have since collapsed.
Structure VI was likely a dual-purpose administrative and residential complex. At the entrances to some of the chambers, it is possible to observe small holes which presumably served as curtain rod holders, suggesting that cotton clothes were hung there to provide residents with more privacy.
Aside from its interesting architectural features, Xpujil is a fantastic place to observe the region’s fauna, especially since its winding paths make it easy to move through the dense rainforest.
If you go
Because of its location right on the highway, as well as a relative abundance of hotels and campsites, the town of Xpujil is the perfect hub for exploring the Río Bec region and the Calakmul biosphere. Several other incredibly interesting sites such as Becán and Chiccaná are also extremely close, and as a result, many travelers choose to visit all three on the same day.
Accommodations, as well as a handful of restaurants in the tiny town, are fairly good, especially when one considers their remote location.