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Many of the various monuments and ruins at Ceibal would not appear to have been constructed until the 9th century AD. What had previously been quite a small settlement grew rapidly after the arrival of the Putun Maya merchant warrior culture. This new influx of people and influences from the Tabasco area of Mexico meant the region’s population increased quickly, peaking at some 10,000 between 830 and 910 AD. The temples and monuments at Ceibal feature beautiful carvings although many people say that the ruins don’t quite seem Mayan. Waist length hair, straight noses and unusual dress have led some people to believe that the inhabitants of the area were not always of Mayan descent. Besides the small temples covered in jungle foliage there are also 57 stelae at the site. The majority of these carved stelae are located in the Central Plaza or the South Plaza. Structure 79, as it is known, is a large circular platform that may have been used for religious ceremonies or astronomical observation. The ruins are also surrounded by a protected forest full of the majestic Ceibal trees after which the area is named. The best way to get there is by far along the Río la Pasión. The journey by boat takes about an hour from Sayaxché and often the boatmen can also serve as guide at the site. A round trip for one person shouldn’t cost much more than $45 and it’s usually $3 per for every extra person. The local bus from Sayaxché can also take you to the ruins but you have to walk the final 8km and the terrain is not always easy. The boat trip is generally a much more enjoyable experience.

Other neighborhoods in Sayaxché: Punta De Chimones , Dos Pilas , Aguateca and Laguna Petexbatún .

11 Aug 2010

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