TULUM, México – In the heart of the Quintana Roo state in Mexico lies the Tulum-Tankah Archaeological Zone, a captivating site of historical significance that is now set to house the Museum of the Eastern Coast. This ambitious project aims to shed light on the remarkable journey and resilience of the Maya peoples in the region, spanning from ancient times to the present day.
Recently unveiled by Diego Prieto Hernández, the director general of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s morning press conference, the plan for this site marks a significant milestone for the Tren Maya, a prioritized railway project, and its Archaeological Zone Improvement Program (Promeza).
The Tulum-Tankah Archaeological Zone, a part of the Tulum National Park and now also incorporated into the newly established Parque del Jaguar, holds a strategic position for the Tren Maya project. Through extensive research and conservation efforts, two new complexes—Nauyacas and Cresterías—are soon to be opened to the public on the northern side, perched atop the cliffs overlooking the mesmerizing Caribbean Sea.
The centerpiece of the Parque del Jaguar will be the Museum of the Eastern Coast, situated within the Visitor Center (Catvi). This museum aims to provide visitors with a comprehensive understanding of the historical trajectory and the enduring spirit of the Maya peoples in the region. From ancient civilizations to the present, the museum will serve as a testament to their rich heritage and the resilience that has shaped their identity.
President López Obrador emphasized the importance of embracing Mexico’s glorious past and understanding its roots as the country moves toward a promising future. He stated, “The pride of our people is nurtured by the glorious civilizations that inhabited this territory and were belittled after the Spanish conquest. That perception prevailed over time, which is why we must exalt Mexico’s cultural greatness, revalue and strengthen our identity. It is also a tribute to these great cultures that Mexico stands unique; that is what has saved us from all kinds of calamities.”
Diego Prieto Hernández, the head of INAH, further highlighted the ongoing specialized conservation efforts taking place within the Tulum-Tankah Archaeological Zone. These actions include the removal of invasive vegetation and harmful fauna, as well as the restoration of the exposed structures. This comprehensive approach involves addressing cracks, restoring joints, consolidating loose stones and core construction, and even applying sacrificial flooring within the walled precinct.
Furthermore, as part of the Promeza initiative, additional areas that were previously restricted to visitors will be made accessible. These include the corners of the murals at the northernwestern (Building 55) and southwestern (Building 56) edges of the wall, a rest area within the palace zone comprised of Buildings 21, 23, and 25, an extended path around Platform 50, and the opening of the southern exit adjacent to the cliff, one of the five access points to the ancient Maya trading enclave.
Outside the walled zone, the Nauyacas architectural complex, consisting of Structures 57 and 59, along with various smaller altars, will be excavated and restored for eventual public visitation. The same applies to the Cresterías complex.
In addition to the physical restoration, the INAH team is actively developing content and designing 190 explanatory panels. The project also includes the renovation of service units, the establishment of an interpretation room, and an archaeological camp.
Prieto Hernández revealed that the Promeza program has now expanded to encompass 27 archaeological sites, as an agreement has been reached with the Ruinas de Cobá community to include this impressive ancient Maya city located in the municipality of Tulum.
To conclude, as of July 13, 2023, all seven sections of the Tren Maya have received the green light for construction, marking the completion of 100% of the planned work. Throughout the project, an astounding number of artifacts have been discovered and preserved, including 52,751 immovable objects (foundations, walls, and pre-Hispanic structures), 1,925 movable objects (such as metates and ceramic artifacts), and a staggering 1,134,908 ceramic fragments. The excavation efforts have also revealed 612 human remains and 1,812 natural features associated with human settlements.