Mayan archaeological site, Mayan ruins near Merida, Yucatan Mexico
Temple of the Dolls
Templo de las Siete Muñecas is an imposing looking building on a pyramidal base with a short tower atop its roof. A monolithic stela stands at its front like a sentinel guarding its entrance. The doorways of the temple were built in exact solar alignment with the rising sun, such that the early rays pass through them on the Spring and Fall equinoxes, marking the beginning of planting season and the beginning of harvest season.
Children of the corn
Since corn was a major part of the Maya diet, these events had great significance to the Maya. Yum Kax was the Maya God of corn and the Maya have actually been referred to as the children of the corn (PBS link).
Temple of the Dolls was named for the seven small dolls that were excavated there
View from Temple of the Dolls doorway looking down the sacbe that leads to the rest of the archaeological site
A large city
Dzibilchaltun ruins was a major city for the early Maya. Archaeologists estimate there were as many as 200,000 inhabitants and 8,400 buildings during its history. The city was still inhabited by the Maya when the Spanish arrived in the 1500's and artifacts have been unearthed here that date from 700-800 A.D.
A large plaza (below) is a short walk down a sacbe trail that leads away from the Temple of the Dolls. This is the largest open area of the site and features low pyramids, one long stairwayed platform and an unusual amphitheater shaped structure called the Open Chapel.
Large plaza and amphitheater
Cenote Xlakah is a beautiful freshwater pool just off the side of the main plaza. It was undoubtedly the freshwater source for the city and perhaps the reason the Maya originally chose this location to build. Water from cenote Xlakah would have been perfect for a all the city's needs and for irrigating nearby fields of corn.
Underwater Cenote Xlakah has sloping sides that descend to a depth of 44 meters (144 feet) where a large horizontal gallery opens up. According to the plaque near the water's edge, Xlakah means Old Town in Maya and the cenote was first explored between 1957-59. During the exploration thousands of pottery shards from shattered water urns were found along with artifacts of wood, stone and bone. The earthenware dates to the Late and Terminal Classic Periods 600-1000 A.D.
Cenote Xlakah is a popular local swimming hole and is open daily until 4pm
The museum at Dzibilchaltun is full of Spanish and Maya artifacts
The museum at Dzibilchaltun is full of interesting artifacts of Spanish and Maya origin. Carved stone tablets, stela, columns and lintels in excellent condition are displayed along side Maya hupiles, old textile machinery, maps, Spanish armor, swords and other weapons, and many other items. The museum is located by the entrance to the ruins site and is definitely worth seeing.
Dzibilchaltun is only 9 miles from Merida and any taxi driver from the city would certainly know the way. There are also combi taxis on Calle 69 between 62 and 64 in San Juan Park that go directly to Dzibilchaltun. If you'd rather drive there yourself take the Merida/Progreso highway north seven miles and watch for the signs indicating a right turn, then in a couple more miles another turn right.