TULUM, Quintana Roo – In a bid to further enhance the preservation efforts at the Tulum archaeological zone, the Mexican government, through the Programa de Mejoramiento de Zonas Arqueológicas (Promeza), has embarked on a detailed registration process of the state of conservation of mural paintings, stuccos, and various decorative elements.
The Secretaría de Cultura, in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), has allocated a portion of the Promeza resources to this initiative, which focuses on addressing the architectural assets of this ancient Mayan city.
For over a decade, the methodologies employed for documenting interventions and assessing the state of conservation of these assets have adapted to the needs of each working season and the available project resources of the Conservación e Investigación de Pintura Mural de la Costa Oriental de Quintana Roo.
At present, the project is centered on creating more detailed and precise graphic records of the architectural complexes, buildings, mural surfaces, and decorative elements on facades and walkways. Patricia Meehan Hermanson, the coordinator of the conservation project linked to Promeza, explained the importance of this undertaking.
“Our main priorities are mural paintings, stucco reliefs, plastered surfaces, with or without color, as well as floors and walkways. This represents a significant opportunity for the project, as it ensures a more uniform level of conservation for Tulum and the systematization of these tasks, something we had not achieved due to limited human and financial resources, as well as time constraints.”
The plan of action includes interventions in seven structures: the Temple of the Frescoes, the iconic Castillo, the Temple of the Descending God, the House of the Halach Uinik, the Palace of the Columns, the House of the Chultún, and the North Tower of the city wall.
The ultimate goal is to leave the site with an acceptable level of conservation and develop maintenance plans for different time frames. Meehan Hermanson emphasized the connection between this conservation project and the structural stability of the buildings.
“Due to the proximity of the site to the Caribbean Sea, the presence of salts in the lime plasters is common. These plasters are preserved due to their hardness, attributed to their magnesium content. However, they also exhibit preferential deterioration in the form of cavities, resembling Swiss cheese. Another conservation concern is related to the fauna inhabiting the walls and roofs of the buildings, such as iguanas and bats.”
To ensure better preservation, the reburial of certain elements that are not in public view is being considered. Prior documentation of these elements will enable future access to high-quality images, adding to the graphic archive created through this initiative.
By dedicating resources and expertise to the conservation of Tulum’s architectural treasures, the Mexican government aims to safeguard the site’s historical and cultural significance for generations to come. The Promeza program serves as a vital instrument in the ongoing efforts to protect and celebrate the legacy of the Mayan civilization.