Press "Enter" to skip to content

INAH recovers 83 pre-Hispanic albarradas on Tren Maya route near Tulum airport

Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Q.R. — Ceramics, flint knives and metates are some of the heritage assets found along of Section 6 of the Maya Train. According to a new report by the INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Historia), specialists have found 83 pre-Hispanic albarradas in the first “front” of that section.

Section 6 of Tren Maya consists of 254 kilometers that runs from the Tulum International Airport, which is located in the neighboring municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, to the state’s capital city of Chetumal.

Albarradas are limestone walls that commonly appear among pre-Hispanic vestiges, and since their construction is simple and effective, they are still used in contemporary rural architecture.

The most accepted theory about their function in pre-Columbian enclosures is that they served to delimit crop areas or even living spaces, said the field leader of Front 1 of Section 6 of the Mayan Train, Fabián Gutiérrez Gómez.

He reported that in the vicinity of the municipality of Chumpón, during the survey of the branch carried out from September 2022 to mid-March 2023, 205 monuments of archaeological origin were found, which include two terraces , two wells, 53 foundations and 83 albarradas.

These last elements, he indicated, date from the Classic Mayan period (300 to 600 AD) and have varied dimensions, which range from five to 400 meters in length, with one meter wide and 70 centimeters high, on average.

The novelty of these structures, the archaeologist pointed out, lies in their design, which is distinguished from other albarradas by their location, close to bodies of water in some cases, and their irregular appearance in the shape of an “L” or chair, since they are normally linear structures.

“These characteristics have allowed us to formulate the hypothesis that, in this specific case, perhaps, they were used as a type of pre-Hispanic ‘Google Map’, which allowed the inhabitants to locate themselves in the region.”

Some of these walls, he noted, were also found near foundations, so it is necessary to analyze the archeology of the landscape to determine if, in fact, their location corresponds to marks on the ground that would serve as signage for the inhabitants of the place and not to delimitations of family plots, with which they are frequently associated.

Another aspect to highlight, he said, is that almost no archaeological material was found near the albarradas, which could indicate that they were not settlements, or that the social organization was communal and most of the activities were carried out outdoor

The analysis of the 83 albarradas, he pointed out, will reveal important details about the way of life of the ancient settlers. For example, the use they gave to the space and the structures themselves, as well as the activities they carried out on a regional scale.

Gutiérrez Gómez explained that in the excavation phase, which began in January 2023 and continues to date, 218 bags of ceramics and three of metates, as well as two flint knives, have been recovered among other archaeological materials, which will be studied in depth to know their age, ethnic affiliation and the material from which they are composed.