Mayan History (Part 57): Tulum
Tulum is on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It was built on 12m-high cliffs.
During the Postclassic Period [950-1200], Tulum was a major port for the city of Cobá, further inland. It had walls (unlike most Mayan cities) – 6m thick in some places, and 4.5-6.0m tall. It has five narrow openings, which can fit one person at a time. Tulum was on trade routes both on land and sea, especially for obsidian.
Tulum was ruled over by Mayapan. It seems to have been an important site for the worship of the Diving/Descending god. Their population was 1,000-1,600.
The city survived for about 70 years after the Spanish arrived, which was unusual. By the end of the 1500’s, it had been abandoned completely.
The Temple of the Frescoes was an observatory for tracking the sun’s movements. It has a lower gallery, and a smaller 2nd-storey gallery. Its façade has depictions of the Mayan diving-god.
Temple of the Frescoes.
The Temple of the Diving God is smaller, and in the central part of the site. It is called that because the diving-god is depicted in stucco on the western wall.
Temple of the Diving God.
El Castillo is a 7.5m-tall pyramid. It was built in stages, on an already-existing building. There is a small shrine, which would have been used as a beacon for incoming trade canoes. It lines up exactly with a break in the barrier reef, through which the canoes would enter a cove and landing beach.
The ruins from the air.
Looking towards the harbour.