Ichkabal Near Bacalar Soon Open to Public

The site is home to a pyramid twice the size of the large Kukulkán temple in Chichén-Itzá










On route to the Bacalar lagoon in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the site of the  ancient Maya city of Ichkabal (City of Snakes) will soon open to visitors, hopefully by mid-2023.

With a large portion of the city still lying beneath the jungle, the site is currently being excavated as part of the Program for the Improvement of Archeological Sites, an initiative to improve and/or develop archaeological sites along the route of the under-construction Maya Train.

Located 30 kilometers away from what would be the Bacalar Station of the railway project, Ichkabal was only discovered 28 years ago by archeologists Enrique Nalda Hernández and Javier López Camacho, although there had been talk of an archaeological site in the region since the 1930s.

So far, excavation at Ichkabal has revealed a central set of five buildings that are at least 2,400 years old. Standing out among them is a 40-meter-high pyramid twice the size of the large Kukulkán temple in Chichén Itzá. The Ichkabal pyramid has a base area similar to that of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán.

The building’s size supports the findings of previous investigations of the site, which have suggested the importance of Ichkabal for the Maya. Some researchers believe the city is the origin of the Kaanu’l (serpent) dynasty, one of the most powerful ruler groups of the Maya civilization.

Archeological findings at the site ranging from between the Pre-Classic period and the Maya civilization’s collapse (400 B.C.–A.D. 900) demonstrate the city’s permanence through time, also an indicator of the site’s importance.

The artificial lagoons used as water reservoirs for the ancient city have also surprised archaeologists. In an interview with the newspaper La Jornada, INAH archeologist Sandra Balanzario said that the lagoons used an advanced hydraulic technique to avoid erosion and water seepage, allowing the lagoons to support the daily life of a city of 100,000 inhabitants spread over an area of 60 square kilometers.

To date, 26 archaeological zones along the Mayan Train are currently undergoing renovation work, with Quintana Roo being home to the largest number of zones in the program.

With reports from La Jornada and Travesías

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