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2006 AD: The Maya ruins of Uxmal, México

The Maya city of Uxmal was first settled between 500 and 600 AD and constructed in a mixture of the regional Puuc and southern Chenes architecture. Already within a few hundred years it became the largest and most important city-state in the Puuc region and controlled several satellite towns as well. Strong trade links with the Chontal Maya, skilfull seafarers who lived near the Gulf coast, brought the city much wealth. Throughout these times it was closely allied with the cities of Chichén Itzá and Mayapán in the east and around 990 they formed the Mayapán League or Confederation. This initiative orchestrated by the Cocom of Mayapán must have brought political and economic stability to the Yucatán peninsula.

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Some two hundred years later however, this Confederation was broken up, possibly when the Cocom leaders of Mayapán forcefully overthrew those of Chichén Itzá and perhaps those of Uxmal as well. Revenge was only taken much later by Uxmal's Ah Xupan of the former Xiu dynasty who in 1441 destroyed much of Mayapán city and consolidated power over the Cocoms. Soon after this event the supreme leader abandoned Uxmal for unknown reasons and established his new capital Maní some 50 kilometres to the east. It was Maní's king Ah Kukum Xiu who took sides with the Spanish conquistadores in the early sixteenth century on a conquest through a much tribalised Yucatán.

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The absence of rivers and cenotes in the vicinity of the town compelled the people of Uxmal to construct large underground reservoirs, plastered with lime, to collect and store rain water. It is therefore no coincidence that the rain god Chaac was almost elevated to a supreme deity and his striking appearance features ubiquitously in Uxmal's architecture.

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Published on 10.12.2006 by Sjaak van der Sar   –   Leave critique or other comments