mercredi 22 février 2012

Tulum (Mexico)

Tulum (Mexico )

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Tulum (Mexico Spring break 2009)

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Maya Site
The seaside view of El Castillo at Tulum
Tulum is located in Mexico
Location on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico
Coordinates: 20°12′53″N 87°25′44″W
Country Mexico
State Mexico stateflags Quintana Roo.png Quintana Roo
Municipality TULUM.png Tulum
Earliest inscription AD 564
Constructed 1200 and 1450
Elevation 39 ft (12 m)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
• Summer (DST) Central Daylight Time (UTC-5)
Major Airport Cancún International Airport
Tulum (Yucatec: Tulu'um) is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city serving as a major port for Cobá.[1] The ruins are situated on 12-meter (39 ft) tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.[1] Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans, it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have been the cause of its demise. One of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites, Tulum is today a popular site for tourists.[1]



[edit] Description

The Maya site may formerly have been known by the name Zama, meaning City of Dawn because it faces the sunrise. Tulum stands on a bluff facing east towards the Caribbean Sea. Tulúm is also the Yucatan Mayan word for fence, wall[1] or trench, and the walls surrounding the site allowed the Tulum fort to be defended against invasions. Tulum had access to both land and sea trade routes, making it an important trade hub, especially for obsidian. From numerous depictions in murals and other works around the site, Tulum appears to have been an important site for the worship of the Diving or Descending god.[1] Tulum had an estimated population of 1,000 to 1,600 inhabitants.
Tulum was first mentioned by Juan Díaz, a member of Juan de Grijalva's Spanish expedition of 1518, the first Europeans to spot Tulum. [1] The first detailed description of the ruins was published by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood in 1843 in the book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. As they arrived from the sea, Stephens and Catherwood first saw a tall building that impressed them greatly, most likely the great Castillo of the site. They made accurate maps of the site’s walls, and Catherwood made sketches of the Castillo and several other buildings. Stephens and Catherwood also reported an early classic stele at the site, with an inscribed date of AD 564 which is interpreted to mean that it was most likely built elsewhere and brought to Tulum to be reused.
Work conducted at Tulum continued with that of Sylvanus Morley and George P. Howe, beginning in 1913. They worked to restore and open the public beaches. The work was continued by the Carnegie Institution from 1916 to 1922, Samuel Lothrop in 1924 who also mapped the site, Miguel Ángel Fernández in the late 1930s and early 1940s, William Sanders in 1956, and then later in the 1970s by Arthur G. Miller. Through these investigations done by Sanders and Miller it has been determined that Tulum was occupied during the late Postclassic period around AD 1200. The site continued to be occupied until contact with the Spanish was made in the early 16th century. By the end of the 16th century the site was abandoned completely.[2]

Map of central Tulum

[edit] Architecture

El Castillo at Tulum (Catherwood, 1844)

Pyramid El Castillo (The Castle), 2008
Tulum has architecture typical of Maya sites on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. This architecture is recognized by a step running around the base of the building which sits on a low substructure. Doorways of this type are usually narrow with columns used as support if the building is big enough. As the walls flare out there are usually two sets of molding near the top. The room usually contains one or two small windows with an altar at the back wall, roofed by either a beam-and-rubble ceiling or being vaulted.[3] This type of architecture resembles what can be found in the nearby Chichen Itza, just on a much smaller scale.[2]
Tulum was protected on one side by steep sea cliffs and on the landward side by a wall that averaged about three to 5 meters (16 ft) in height. The wall also was about 8 m (26 ft) thick and 400 m (1,300 ft) long on the side parallel to the sea. The part of the wall that ran the width of the site was slightly shorter and only about 170 meters (560 ft) on both sides. Constructing this massive wall would have taken an enormous amount of energy and time, which shows how important defense was to the Maya when they chose this site. On the southwest and northwest corners there are small structures that have been identified as watch towers, showing again how well defended the city was. There are five narrow gateways in the wall with two each on the north and south sides and one on the west. Near the northern side of the wall a small cenote provided the city with fresh water. It is this impressive wall that makes Tulum one the most well-known fortified sites of the Maya.[4]
There are three major structures of interest at the Tulum site. El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God are the three most famous buildings. Among the more spectacular buildings here is the Temple of the Frescoes that included a lower gallery and a smaller second story gallery. The Temple of the Frescoes was used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun. Niched figurines of the Maya “diving god” or Venus deity decorate the facade of the temple. This “diving god” is also depicted in the Temple of the Diving God in the central precinct of the site. Above the entrance in the western wall a stucco figure of the “diving god” is still preserved, giving the temple its name. A mural can still be seen on the eastern wall that resembles that of a style that originated in highland Mexico, called the Mixteca-Puebla style, though visitors are no longer permitted to enter.
Also in the central precinct is the Castillo, which is 7.5 m (25 ft) tall. The Castillo was built on a previous building that was colonnaded and had a beam and mortar roof. The lintels in the upper rooms have serpent motifs carved into them. The construction of the Castillo appears to have taken place in stages. A small shrine appears to have been used as a beacon for incoming canoes. This shrine marks a break in the barrier reef that is opposite the site. Here there is a cove and landing beach in a break in the sea cliffs that would have been perfect for trading canoes coming in. This characteristic of the site may be one of the reasons the Maya founded the city of Tulum exactly here, as Tulum later became a prominent trading port during the late Postclassic.[2]

Templo del Dios Descendente (Temple of the Descending God)

[edit] Trading

Templo Dios del Viento (God of Winds Temple) guarding Tulum's sea entrance bay
Both coastal and land routes converged at Tulum which is apparent by the number of artifacts found in or near the site that show contacts with areas all over Central Mexico and Central America. Copper artifacts from the Mexican highlands have been found near the site, as have flint artifacts, ceramics, incense burners, and gold objects from all over the Yucatán. Salt and textiles were among some of the goods brought to Tulum by sea that would then be dispersed inland. Typical exported goods included feathers and copper objects that came from inland sources. These goods could be transported by sea to rivers such as the Río Motagua and the Río Usumacincta/Pasión system that could be taken inland giving seafaring canoes access to both the highlands and the lowlands.
The Río Motagua starts from the highlands of Guatemala and empties into the Caribbean while the Río Pasión/Ucamacincta river system also originates in the Guatemalan highlands and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It may have been one of these seafaring canoes that Christopher Columbus first encountered off the shores of the Bay Islands of Honduras.[5] Jade and obsidian appear to be some of the more prestigious materials found here as the obsidian would have had to have traveled clear from Ixtepeque in northern Guatemala which was nearly 700 kilometers (430 mi) away from Tulum. This huge distance coupled with the density of obsidian found at the site show that Tulum was a major center for the trading of obsidian.[6]

[edit] Function "The Secret of Tulum"

As mentioned, Tulum may have served as a port city for the Maya site of Coba as there is a sacbe road connecting the two. However, it was more likely a principal way station along a Putun Maya ocean trade route stretching from Panama in the South to Champoton (Maya: Chem = canoe + Poton = Putun, the Maya tribe with a monopoly on sea trade ) on the Gulf of Mexico in the North. Tulum’s location to the Southwest of the principal Putun entrepot of Cozumel Island meant that large, ocean going canoes could depart for Cozumel almost no matter what the weather nor how strong the Northbound current, which forms the beginnings of the mighty Gulf Stream, was running at the time.The substantial landside fortifications of Tulum are more in keeping with coastal island’s requirement for a secure port on the mainland, as the modern municipality of Isla Mujeres maintains Punta Sam and Cozumel formerly administered Playa del Carmen.
The Secret of Tulum was rediscovered in 1984 when an expedition led by Pilar Luna of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology’s Nautical Archaeology Department and Michael Creamer of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology funded by a grant from National Geographic. Experiments conducted that season conclusively proved that Tulum’s El Castillo served as an aid to navigating the narrow gap in the offshore coral reef that protects Tulum’s convenient landing beach.

Surf breaking on the reef opposite the Castillo.
This was later documented on film for Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious Universe –‘The Mysterious Maya for Discovery Channel’ (English), and History Channel (Spanish). How does the oldest lighthouse in the New World work?
El Castillo at Tulum consists of two pairs of very sophisticated horizontal range lights – a day signal and a night signal. They work equally well North bound or South bound from beyond the world’s second longest barrier reef. Most modern range light systems are vertical – a taller tower behind a shorter one; each with day shapes and night lights. When the day shapes or night lights are aligned atop the other, the vessel is within a safe, navigable channel. The unique topography of Tulum would require a tower behind El Castillo of over 20m. The existing horizontal range light system developed by the Maya is far more practical. The day signals are a pair of windows in the first floor stone work either side of the main tower.

Castillo from the reef, Main and side windows visible.
During daylight hours, the sky is visible through them from beyond the reef opening. As long as the Windows appear of uniform width the approaching vessel is within the safe channel. If one window appears to be reduced in width, the vessel’s course must be altered towards the narrowing window or it will come to grief on the reef or one of the several coral heads on either side of the channel within the reef confines.The night signals are two windows situated in the upper floor of the Castillo tower.

Windows in the Castillo's sea-facing wall.
The South Window measures about 45cm x 45cm and projects a light beam wider than the safe reef opening.The North Window, slightly taller and narrowerprojects a light beam exactly the width of the reef opening. When one sees the single light from the South Window from offshore of the reef, it is time to get ready. When light from the North window becomes visible, get set. The moment both lights are equally brilliant; GO! As with the Day Signals, due to the thickness of the stone walls through which the light beams are projected, the light will decrease and increase as one deviates from or returns to the main channel.

Light beam projected from the Castillo and its visibility from the reef.
The Putun Maya ocean going canoes of the Post Classic period had raised sterns, and it can be safely assumed; raised bows as well. Even if they were of expanded dugout construction (planked up canoes were unknown) yielding the most freeboard possible from a single log, the freeboard would still have been rather low and the vessels easily swamped, especially when making a turn from offshore into Tulum Channel even in moderate seas. Cargos of cacao, copper, jade, obsidian and quetzal feathers were of immense value, as were the royal passengers bound for the sacred temples of Ixchel on Cozumel and Isla Mujeres. Thus the substantial investment in a navigational aid such as the one described at Tulum would have been justified. Since the rediscovery of Tulum’s true purpose, today’s Mexican fishermen look over their shoulders at El Castillo to check their bearings when exiting through the reef channel and use the guiding lights upon their return home. [7][8]

[edit] Tourism

"Temple of the Frescos"
The Tulum archaeological site is relatively compact compared with many other Maya sites in the vicinity, and is one of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites. Its proximity to the modern tourism developments along the Mexican Caribbean coastline and its short distance from Cancun (the "Riviera Maya" surrounding Cancún) has made it the most popular Maya tourist site in the Yucatan. Daily tour buses bring a constant stream of visitors to the site. The Tulum ruins are the third most-visited archaeological site in Mexico, after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza. It is popular for the picturesque view of the Caribbean and a location just 128 km (80 mi) south of the popular beach resort of Cancún.
A large number of cenotes are located in the Tulum area such as Maya Blue, Naharon, Temple of Doom, Tortuga, Vacaha, Grand Cenote, Abejas, Nohoch Kiin and Carwash cenotes and cave systems.
The tourist destination is now divided into four main areas: the archaeological site, the pueblo (or town), the zona hotelera (or hotel zone) and the biosphere reserve of Sian Ka'an.
In 1995, tourism came to a brief halt as the powerful Hurricane Roxanne pounded into Tulum, packing 115 mph winds. Damage was moderate.

[edit] See also

This beach at Tulum is protected for nesting sea turtles; Quintana Roo, Mexico

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Maya sites in Quintana Roo: Tulúm" (history), Athena Review Vol.2, no.1, 2003, webpage: AthenaPub-Tulum.
  2. ^ a b c "The Ancient Maya", Robert J. Sharer and Loa P. Traxler, Published by Stanford University Press 2006. pp 608-611
  3. ^ Muyil-Quintana Roo-Mexico. Last revised Wednesday April 2, 2008. Walter R. T. Witschey. September 17, 2008. (
  4. ^ Lowland Maya Fortifications, David Webster, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 120, No. 5 (Oct. 15, 1976), pp. 361-371, Published by: American Philosophical Society
  5. ^ The Peoples of the Caribbean: An Encyclopedia of Archeology and Traditional Culture, Nicholas J. Saunders, Published by ABC-CLIO, 2005. pp 299
  6. ^ Classic Maya Obsidian Trade, Raymond V. Sidrys, American Antiquity, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Oct., 1976), pp. 449-464, Published by: Society for American Archaeology
  7. ^ Michael A. Creamer
  8. ^ Arthur C. Clark's Myterious Universe

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