The Mayan Train trail is brimming with ruins and archaeological objects. There are already 17,079 pre-Hispanic vestiges that researchers have found on the train route, the tourist megaproject and star promise of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Along the railroad route that will cross the Yucatan peninsula from end to end through 1,554 kilometers, 15,585 immovable monuments, 1,087 movable monuments, 407 agricultural remains, 80 burials, 60,000 ceramic fragments and 30 complete vessels have been located. The finds have not finished and the excavation works, which cover half a kilometer on each side of the road, are on the accelerator to deliver before 2024.
“Most of us have found immovable monuments: domestic constructions, burials and, in some cases, monumental architecture and more than 1,000 movable monuments such as molcajetes, metates, vessels, ceramic elements and other elements of daily life or ritual character”, Diego lists Prieto, director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). For example, a thousand-year-old vessel with hieroglyphic writing stands out, whose type dates from the end of the Early Classic period to the Late Classic period (600 and 800 AD), attributed to the Oxkintok area, in Yucarán, which probably corresponds to a mortuary deposit . Also the 80 human burials that, in some cases, presented cranial deformations which would indicate that they had a higher social status, and the more than 15,000 immovable vestiges on the periphery of the project: mounds and domestic levels to bases with complex architecture.
Both the immovable archaeological monuments and those of the furniture type expand the knowledge about daily life and the relations of trade and cultural exchange that existed centuries ago in the Mayan area, explains archaeologist Ileana Echauri Pérez, of the Directorate of Archaeological Studies of the INAH and Iliana Ancona Aragón, from the INAH center in Yucatán. The findings have been located thanks to the archaeological salvage project baptized as’U lu’umil maaya wíiniko’ob: A regional analysis of the Mesoamerican southeast ‘, which is concentrated in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo, where archaeologists, anthropologists, architects and restorers carry out surface tours with tools such as georeferencing using GPS, surveying with satellite technology and the use of LIDAR sensors. , which has made it possible to identify and assess areas where archaeological elements of very diverse characteristics and magnitudes are concentrated.
Only section 1, which goes from Palenque to Escárcega – in the states of Chiapas and Campeche, with a length of 223 kilometers – has covered 131.19 kilometers to date, where 553 archaeological monuments have been registered; some of them documented for the first time. Due to the concentration of these vestiges on the train path, the Institute of Anthropology defined critical areas where specific measures will have to be established to avoid the destruction of the pyramidal bases, squares or quadrangles and terraces, highlighting a large basement on the that several mounds are displaced. In fact, some of the registered buildings were partially affected during the construction of the old railway line.
So far, the INAH has approved 760,093 kilometers of work in 5 of the 8 sections of the train and announced that they will no longer request modifications to the track. “At the beginning we had to make suggestions to modify some line to avoid that monumental structures could be affected, but by the Council of Archeology we have already validated the general line of the first five sections”, advanced the director of the INAH. The findings, archaeologists say, reflect the presence of human groups living as early as the Preclassic (700-300 BC), who used ceramic vessels for daily and sumptuary activities. An offering from the Early Classic period 250-600 AD stands out, consisting of a bowl and a pourer vessel, both with four mammiform supports, representing the breasts of a woman, which date from the transition from the Preclassic to the Classic. The researchers consider the work of the Mayan Train a good research opportunity, with a view to broadening knowledge about the archaeological sites of the regions that it will visit. “Once these salvage processes are carried out, the pieces are taken to the laboratories where they are stabilized, cleaned and restored, and there begins something that excites us a lot, the research process carried out at the INAH it is what has revealed to us during all these years, that cultural wealth that we have ”, commented the Secretary of Culture, Alejandra Frausto, in a press conference.
The initial design of the Mayan Train divided the route into three sections — Selva, Golfo and Caribe— and had 18 stops in five states: Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo and Yucatán. But, to date, 327 people have filed 25 appeals against the project, reported the director general of the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur), Rogelio Jiménez Pons. He also said that the cost of the Mayan Train increased by 60,000 million pesos. “The initial cost was 140,000 million pesos and it goes to almost 200,000 million,” explained Jiménez Pons, appearing this Monday before the Senate Communications and Transportation Commission. Now, the project will have 21 stations and 17 stops. Fonatur announced two important modifications in Campeche and Mérida, where the communities in the area presented injunctions against the work.
The Mayan Train is sold as part of a strategy of the Government of Mexico to serve the southeast, in order to pay off the historical debt, reduce inequality and integrate the region into economic dynamics. Promises abound around the project: a new tourist center, an efficient work, a source of employment and a promoter of well-being, but environmentalists, indigenous peoples and some archaeologists and historians are not so convinced. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) authorized the Environmental Impact of the Mayan Train project, which is expected to deforest 800 hectares of forest for its construction, only in the first phase. The roads will pass through protected areas such as the Catazajá and La Libertad Lagoon System in Chiapas and Tabasco; the Cenote Ring Ramsar site in Yucatán and the Los Petenes Biosphere Reserve in Campeche. And over thousands of pre-Hispanic vestiges.
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