Archaeological site ‘for sale’ goes viral in Yucatán

By Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

March 30, 2023


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.

The archaeological site of Xkipche exhibits features consistent with Maya Puuc-style architecture.

A large piece of land for sale on Facebook Marketplace has recently stirred controversy in Yucatán and across Mexico.

The property in question extends over 249 hectares, but more notably contains the remains of ancient Maya structures.

According to the publication, the land is 10 minutes from Uxmal and has a handful of prehispanic constructions, as well as two wells.

The property is listed for sale at a price of 18 million pesos or roughly one million USD.

The listing has caused outrage among Yucatecos who see the potential sale as compromising their cultural heritage.

The archaeological remains have been identified as belonging to a well-documented site called Xkipche.

The site of Xkipche underwent reconstruction efforts in the late ’90s and was completed by the INAH in 2004 with the assistance of archaeologists from Bonn University in Germany.

According to sources close to Yucatán Magazine, the INAH is now preparing to take legal action to avoid the sale and perhaps even expropriate the property.

Earlier: Xtampak, the enigmatic capital of the Chenes region

It is not unusual for pieces of land for sale to contain archaeological remains, however, this fact is seldom highlighted as it is considered a legal liability.

Under Mexican law, it is not illegal to own property with archaeological remains on it, but all archaeological remains are constitutionally the property of the federal government, making their sale impossible.

The same goes for pieces of land with rivers, lakes, or cenotes, as all waterways are also government property under Mexican law.

The archeological site Chacmultún sits on ejido land and crops can be seen being grown alongside Sacbé’s and ancient temples. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The Puuc region is jam-packed with dozens of well-known archaeological sites open to the public including UxmalKabahSayil, and Labna, but is also home to countless others, most of which lay on private or ejido land.

For more on archaeological sites in Yucatán and beyond visit our growing archive of archaeological features at Yucatán’s Magazine’s Archaeology Monday.

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