Deeper research into the ancient Mayan city of Ichkabal will be carried out before it is opened to the public, said the Quintana Roo chief of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), providing a better experience for visitors when it does open.
Margarito Molina told the newspaper El Economista that obtaining resources to carry out the additional research is a priority for INAH.
Researchers’ conclusions about the geopolitical organization of the city and the lives of its erstwhile Mayan inhabitants will enable visitors to have a more educational and informative experience at the southern Quintana Roo site, he said.
“The site is very old, it dates from the early pre-classic period. The important thing is to keep carrying out research for its opening in order to be able to present to the public the interpretation, the results of the research and an understanding about the culture,” Molina said.
“A visitor can’t [just] see the structures and understand the daily life of the settlement. That’s the work of archaeologists, historians and also linguists,” he added.
Beyond the additional research, INAH director Diego Prieto said that before the site can open a range of infrastructure needs to be built at the site including a formal entrance, an interpretation center and public washrooms.
Another factor that is holding up the opening of Ichkabal is the absence of an agreement between INAH and the communal owners of the land on which the site sits.
Luis Chimal Balam, head of the Bacalar ejido, said earlier this year that INAH has proposed paying 400,000 pesos (US $21,000) for each of the 121 hectares covered by Ichkabal and the surrounding area that needs to be developed to access the site.
But the 165 ejidatarios decided that they don’t want to give up ownership of the land. Instead, they wish to be partners in the development of the archaeological site and direct beneficiaries of the tourism it attracts.
Located around 60 kilometers west of Laguna de Bacalar in the municipality of Othón P. Blanco, Ichkabal is one of the most important Mayan cities of the pre-classical era.
It was inhabited by kings of the Kaan dynasty and some of its structures are taller than the pyramids at Chichén Itzá in Yucatán.
The Quintana Roo government has said that the recovery and opening of Ichkabal could attract investment in hotels and real estate to the tune of US $1 billion over the next 15 years.
Source: El Economista (sp)