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Oxtankah archaeological site to be included on Maya Train route

Costa Maya, Q.R. — The INAH says the Archaeological Zones Improvement Program will enrich the visiting experience in Oxtankah, a site between Chetumal and the Sian Ka’an Reserve, which is being included on the Maya Train route.

According to Diego Prieto Hernández, the general director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the site, which is located in the Bay of Chetumal, has more than 30 monumental structures, a cenote and three pre-Hispanic water tanks and was an important commercial port between the 1st and 5th centuries.

He says Oxtankah is one of the most iconic Mayan cities of the Yucatan Peninsula and that its port quality allowed it to become a commercial enclave between the 1st and 5th centuries of our era.

“Tradition also tells that at the beginning of the 16th century it was the home of Gonzalo Guerrero, a Spanish shipwrecked man who joined the Mayan community and died defending his adoptive people against overseas conquerors,” he said during the President’s morning press conference.

Prieto Hernández explained the various projects of the federal Ministry of Culture will include Oxtankah as part of the Maya Train priority project through the application of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza).

“Due to its natural location between the city of Chetumal and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, it is contemplated that public visits to this archaeological zone will increase significantly as a result of the entry into operation of the railway work,” he added.

The Promeza (program) includes research actions, conservation of structures and archaeological materials, as well as the improvement of the infrastructure for visitors.

He says the name Oxtankah can be interpreted as ‘place surrounded by ramones’, a common tree in the Mayan jungle.

To date, more than 30 monumental architectural structures, a cenote and three chultunes (water tanks built by the Mayans in pre-Hispanic times) have been identified as well as an unfinished Catholic chapel, which is testimony to the difficulties faced by the Spanish evangelization process in the 16th century.

Earlier this month, INAH said they were continuing with archaeological excavation, concentrating on sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Maya Train route.