The walled city of Tulum dominated by the Castillo overlooking the Caribbean

As many of you know, I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to see Mayan ruins in Mexico and Belize. A major feature is the walled city of Tulum, near Cozumel in Quintana Roo province of Mexico.

The major structures date from around 1100 to 1200 A.D., although earlier dates are found on some of the work there.

The Mayans were particularly advanced in their measurement of time, and after visiting in Mayan culture, the early explorers returned home and revised their calendars to show 365 days as Mayan calendars did.

The walled city withstood centuries of conflict with surrounding cultures but fell after the advent of European occupiers later, their armed soldiers happening on the civilizations there.

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 SeaTulúm is also the Yucatan Mayan word for fencewall[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] … it has been determined that Tulum was occupied during the latePostclassic 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.[3]

The artwork has been found still showing evidence of paint and stucco that decorated the city when Grijalva chanced upon Tulum.   He described it as being the size of Seville, Spain.

A characteristic Mayan visage in a feathered headdress juts out from the frieze of one of the decorated structures in Tulum

The Great Palace is central in the Mayan ruins