Archaeologists of the University of Bonn have just begun the first of three series of excavation programmes in Xkipché on the Mexican peninsula of Yucatán. They are investigating the living conditions of the population shortly before the city was finally abandoned towards the end of the 10th century as well as the city?s role as the residence of local princes during the turbulent period of its decline.
What the "Palace" building discovered by Teobert Maler looks like today.
AG Prem / Uni Bonn
The location of the find is in the vicinity of the world famous ruined city of Uxmal (recently accorded the status of world cultural heritage site), and like Uxmal goes back to the classical and late classical culture of the Mayas, being inhabited from ca. 500 to 1000 A.D. The focus of the current excavations is smaller buildings with a C-shaped ground plan, which are regarded as a reliable indicator of the last large-scale settlement of the Puuc region of Yucatán. A second focus of this research project, which is mainly funded by the German Research Association, is to investigate the living conditions of the less prosperous sections of the population. The Xkipché Archaeological Project is the first research project in the north of the Yucatán peninsula to specifically focus on the peasant class in the late classical period of the Maya culture, whereas almost all the other archaeological excavations in this region have been predominantly concerned with the role of the local and supra-regional élites.
German exploration of the ruined city of Xkipché is about a century old: between 1886 and 1893 the explorer Teobert Maler visited approximately a hundred large and small ruined sites in the Puuc zone of the Yucatán peninsula, which he recorded in descriptions, drawings and photographs. A large number of these ruins were subsequently lost in the dense scrub of this impassable hilly terrain and was only rediscovered in the last few decades. Xkipché was one of these, which Professor Hanns J. Priem of the Institute of Ancient American Culture and Ethnology (IAE) was able to reach in 1989 after a great deal of effort. From 1991 to 1997 archaeologists of the University of Bonn excavated a palace complex there, which with its two storeys and over 40 rooms, some of which were still well preserved, was one of the biggest in the entire region.
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