Muyil, Chunyaxché - Maya ruins south of Tulum, Mexico
Off the beaten track
Muyil and Chunyaxché, the modern names used to refer to this archaeological site, come from two large lagoons located on the area's outskirts, both within the confines of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Muyil is the most notable of the 22 pre-hispanic settlements of the Sian Ka'an and is situated 12 kilometers inland from the Caribbean shoreline, approximately 25 kilometers south of Tulum pueblo on Highway 307.
Architecturally, the site is divided into two sectors: Muyil A and Muyil B. The first of these is open to the public and extends across 38 hectares of jungle. It was a densely populated settlement during the pre-hispanic era with a great quantity of civic-religious and residential constructions, only some of which have been uncovered by the archaeologists. Because of the ruin's proximity to Muyil lagoon the city is thought to have been an impotatant stop in the pre-hispanic Maya's maritime trade route along the coast. There is evidence that the Maya utilized natural inlets and beaches up and down the coast, like the beaches at: Tulum ruins, Tankah, Akumal, Xaac, Paamul, Chakalal and the inlet of Xel-Ha and Xcaret (all of which have Maya ruins associated with them). The land-locked lagoons of Muyil and Chunyaxche are linked to the open sea by a narrow canal system dredged by the ancient Maya to provide access to the Caribbean by way of Laguna Campechen and the sea inlet at Boca Paila. The second sector of Muyil is located 2 kilometers northeast of the first and consists of a small nucleus of structures.
Information obtained up to now indicates that Mayan groups began to populate the site around 300 B.C. This is centuries before the height of such ancient Maya cities as Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Tulum. It is thought that the site was in use by the Maya until the first decades of the 16th century when Francisco de Montejo led the spanish conquest of Yucatan. According to colonial period documents, the first campsite of the Spanish was established by Montejo in 1527 near the then Mayan seaport of Xel-ha, and he called it Salamanca de Xala. Muyil ruins map