Site Setting
Dissertation and all web site contents copyright 2008 Bradley W. Russell
Setting (cont.)

 Obtaining water depends on access to the underground water supply. There is little water to be found
above ground.  A few year round aguadas are available for water and fishing and, during the rainy
season, water can be collected from sartenejas, which are small surface pools that hold some water
after rains but dry up rapidly.  It seems very likely that Mayapán’s location was largely determined by the
density of water bearing cenotes in the area (Smith 1962; Brown 1999:526-528).  The northern end of the
Yucatán Peninsula is home to a crescent shaped series of these sinkholes known as the “ring of
cenotes”.  These erosional features are surface expressions of the impact that created the Chicxulub
crater off the north coast of the peninsula (Pope et, al. 1996).  The collision created enormous rings of
fractured limestone crossing the shelf of uplifted coral limestone that is the peninsula.  Importantly, this
fracturing was deep enough to provide access to the fresh water aquifer below.  The area around this
zone of cenotes has been shown to have a significantly higher number of archaeological sites
(Winemiller and Ochoa-Winemiller 2006).  At a smaller scale, it is clear from this and other surveys at the
site that localized settlement patterning is notably influenced by proximity to one of these underground
water repositories.  The Mayapán area has a densest concentrations of these features.  It seems clear
that this feature would have made the placement location attractive.  

PAGE (3 of 3 setting) 1 - 2 - 3