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  • Lintel 1
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  • Lintel 3
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  • Lintel 4
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  • Misc 5
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  • Panel 1
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  • Panel 2
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  • Panel 7
Site name: Xcalumkin Site volume and author reference
Location and Access
Principal Investigations
Notes on the Ruins
References Cited

OTHER NAMES FOR THE SITE Holactun, Yokactun.

LOCATION AND ACCESS The ruins of Xcalumkin lie about 13 km east of the town of Hecelchakan, Campeche, in the large savanna of Xcalumkin, which was the source of the name given to the ruins. This savanna, dotted with low hills and bordered by an irregular chain of higher limestone hills covered with scrubby woods, extends about 10 km north-south and averages more than 1 km wide. The soil in it is a fertile kancab, but historically its agricultural potential has been limited by a vigorous and invasive tall grass; recently, however, mechanical cultivation and irrigation have begun to change the situation. A road leading from Hecelchakan to Bolonchen crosses the savanna about 2.5 km from its southern end, and it is in this southern extremity, cut off by the road, that the ruins lie, occupying an area of about one kilometer by two. The boundaries of the site, however, may be considerably larger, embracing isolated structures lying outside the area covered by the site plans presented here (Pollock 1980, p. 419).

Access to the ruins by motor vehicle is now easy, thanks to the grading and ballasting of this road. Branching from it, an unsurfaced road that leads to an irrigation well runs past the main group of ruins and close to other structures, such as the "Iglesia."

PREVIOUS INVESTIGATIONS AT THE SITE The ruins were discovered by Teobert Maler in March 1887. He later published a short narrative description of them, illustrated by two photographs (Maler 1902, pp. 202-204). About ten other photographs of his hav.e survived, the most important being those of the Initial Series Building, from which Maler and his men had spent several days clearing rubble.

In 1903, E. H. Thompson visited the site to mould inscriptions for the Peabody Museum. (How many of the resulting plaster casts are still in existence is uncertain since the casts are not all accessible; photographs, however, exist of three casts). The next archaeologists known to have been to the site were Sylvanus G. Morley in 1918 and Thomas Gann in 1924. Morley published his reading of the date in the Initial Series Building (Morley 1918), but otherwise neither of them recorded data of significance. The name "Holactun," which Morley used for the site, was considered by Harry Pollock (1980, p. 418) to be perhaps valid for the Main Group (see Notes on the Ruins, below); but probably it would be better discarded altogether.

In April and May 1935, Pollock and H. B. Roberts of the Carnegie Institution of Washington spent three weeks at Xcalumkin, the former to gather data for the Architectural Survey project, the latter to undertake a ceramics survey. Although meeting with disappointment in his intended work, Roberts was far luckier in carrying out a task delegated to him by Pollock, namely clearing rubble from the Hieroglyphic Group, for in that precinct rich epigraphic discoveries awaited him. Eleven of the sculptures found by Pollock and Roberts were reproduced by Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1950, pls. 94, 95), but it was not until 45 years after their fieldwork was done that Pollock presented a full account of their discoveries (1980, pp. 418-456).

At some time prior to 1942, Raul Pavon Abreu removed from Xcalumkin a number of pieces of sculpture for exhibition in the Museo Arqueologico in Campeche, including Jambs 1, 6, and 7; Columns 2 and 5; and Panels 5 to 8 (Pavon 1942, catalogue numbers 9 and 57-61). It was fortunate that he did so, for the site was plundered in the 1960s, but in retrospect one can only regret that, since he lacked the means to consolidate it, he did not dismantle the remaining section of vaulted roof and remove Column 1 as well as Column 2, for collapse was clearly imminent; in fact it occurred within three years, as Alberto Ruz reported (1945, p. 48).

In 1968 Ray Matheny and his students spent three weeks reconnoitering the site and making test excavations on behalf of the New World Archaeological Foundation, while Eduardo Martinez E. of the same foundation mapped the Main Group. A report on the ceramic collections obtained there (Forsythe 1982) contains a version of Martinez' map.

Eric von Euw's work for the Corpus was carried out in 1976 and 1978, in the course of which he removed some of the remaining sculpture to the Museo Arqueologico, Campeche. Ian Graham's visits were made in 1986 and 1988.

NOTES ON THE RUINS The heart of the site, or Main Group, is made up of about 30 buildings erected on level ground, most of them on raised platforms; they are clustered in a close but irregular grouping round the Initial Series Court and its conjoined structures. While the Initial Series Group as a whole appears to be the result of a haphazard sequence of building operations, it has a generally northward aspect, facing onto a large court. The orientation of buildings in the group is varied with a tendency to run a little east of north.

In several structures, partially preserved vaulted roofs remain, but for a site in the Puuc area, Xcalumkin has remarkably little geometric decoration, and mask panels are unknown. Unfortunately one of the most interesting architectural features recorded by Pollock (1980, pp. 428-432), the triple doorway of the Northwest Building, notable for its piers or double jambs decorated with quarter-columns, has collapsed since his visit.

Two cenotes lie at the edge of the Main Group. The larger of them consists of an opening about 7 m in diameter, which reveals a flat rock surface about 1.5 m below; this in turn is perforated by a smaller hole which discloses a large natural chamber 10 m deep. It was reported to Pollock (1980, p. 419) that this cenote contains water during the rainy season, and indeed it must receive a large quantity of surface drainage through the orifice.

Most of the surrounding low hills are surmounted by one or more courts, many of them containing chultuns. A particularly fine chultun is found in the court built on a small hill that the road skirts at a point where an elevation of 39.0 m is marked on the 1:8,000 plan. For the sake of orientation, it may be worth identifying another small hilltop court lying about 150 m south-southeast of that hill as the location of test pit T17 shown on a plan (Brainerd 1958, Map 18) of trenches and pits sunk by Roberts.

Inscribed monuments are found exclusively in two locales: in the Initial Series Building and in two buildings in the Hieroglyphic Group. The South Building in the latter group has an abundance of hieroglyphic texts; indeed, it may have no rival in the Yucatan Peninsula for richness of inscriptional embellishment.

Morley (1946, p. 420) mentions a painted capstone at Xcalumkin, or coming from there, but we have failed to locate it.

NOTES ON THE PLAN OF THE RUINS Both plans presented here are of composite origin. The 1:8,000 map showing the environs of the site and the road that passes through its central zone is based on Graham's mapping with transit and stadia rod; to this have been added contours enlarged from the 1:50,000 sheet (F15D89) of the Mexican Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, GeogrMica e Informatica. Contours have been added to show three low hills not visible on that map: one is the first hillock skirted by the road just south of the turnoff from the Hecelchakan to Cumpich road; the others are the second and third hillocks seen to the east of the road by a traveler heading south along it from the central zone (the second is the site of test pit 17, as mentioned above), Note that the term central zone has been coined for the nonce; it merely defines the area chosen for presentation at the scale of 1:2,000 and distinguishes that area within the plan at the scale of 1:8,000.

The 1:2,000 plan of the central zone is based principally on mapping done in 1968 for the New World Archaeological Foundation by the late Eduardo Martinez E. As was his usual practice, Martinez produced a 1:1,000 contour map with intervals of 1 m. At some later stage, for publication purposes, the structures, all of which had originally been delineated only by contour lines, were redrawn in the conventional rectified, geometrical manner. It should be noted that in this version (Forsythe 1982, fig. 2) the actual scale is only 65 percent of the scale indicated.

In the course of brief visits to the site in 1986 and 1988, both of them in the month of February, Graham did some surveying with transit and stadia rod, but unfortunately the heavy mantle of tall grass and shrubs which invariably covers the ruins at that season made detailed mapping out of the question. Some 20 II shots" on structures confirm the general reliability of Martinez' map, though in the drafting stage Graham found that it was necessary to make some adjustments to bring it into conformity with his own. The process of rectifying the contour map is undoubtedly responsible for some serious misinterpretations: for example, the large structure shown about 30 m southwest of the larger cenote is in reality a natural hillock supporting a ruined building (in which a heavy stone lintel remains in place); just to the north of it is a similar structure.

Into the plan of the central zone there have also been incorporated Harry Pollock's more detailed plans of the Initial Series Group, the North Hill Group, and the Hieroglyphic Group (Pollock 1980, figs. 703, 730, 735). The spot elevations given are based on an assumed datum of 35.0 m above sea level for a point near the road junction shown at the top of the 1:8,000 map, an estimate from the trends discernible on the 1:50,000 map. Since the Hecelchakan-Cumpich road does not appear on the published 1:50,000 map, the delineation of it on the accompanying 1:125,000 access map had to be based on Graham's rough survey by compass and odometer.


In the present work, each inscribed monument has been placed in one of the common categories of sculptured stones and assigned a number within it. Given below is a concordance of these new designations with the excessively cumbersome, if more descriptive, ones formerly in use. One category of inscribed stone that was absent from the original list (p.l:25) and is now introduced is the capital (abbreviated Cap.); within it will be included architectural elements that might more properly be termed corbels, but the similarity of the Spanish term capitel is an argument in its favor.

Initial Series Building Lintel-Lintell west jamb-Jamb 1

Corbel, west jamb-Capital 1 East jamb-Jamb 2

Corbel, east jamb-Capital 3 West column-Column 1

Capital of west column-Capital 2 East column-Column 2

Tablet above Initial Series panel-Panel 1 Initial Series panel-Panel 2

Hieroglyphic Group, Northwest Building

Sculptured stone in east wall, south wing-Fragment 1

Hieroglyphic Group, Middle Building

North doorway, west jamb-Jamb 3

South doorway, west jamb-Jamb 4

South doorway, corbel of west jamb-Capital 4 South doorway, east jamb-Jamb 5

South doorway, corbel of east jamb-Capital 5 South doorway, west column-Column 3 South doorway, east column-Column 4

East inner doorway, inscription-Miscellaneous 5

Hieroglyphic Group, South Building

North facade, medial moulding-Cornice 1 North doorway, lintel-Lintel 2

North doorway, east panel-Panel 3

North doorway, west panel-Panel 4

North doorway, east column-Column 5 North doorway, west column-Column 6

North side, inner doonvay, east human panel-Panel 5 North side, inner doorway, east glyphic panel-Panel 6 North side, inner doorway, west human panel-Panel 7 North side, inner doorway, west glyphic panel-Panel 8 North side, inner doorway, lintel-Lintel 3

North side, inner doorway, east jamb-Jamb 6

North side, inner doorway, west jamb-Jamb 7

South side, lintel-Lintel 4

South side, west jamb-Jamb 8

South side, east jamb-Jamb 9

Jamb fragment, undocumented-Fragment 2



Lintels 1-4 Jambs 1-9 Columns 1-6 Panels 1-8 Capitals 1-5 Cornice 1 Miscellaneous 5 Fragments 1, 2


  1. Miscellaneous 1-4 are pieces of sculpture in the round designated by Pollock as M1 to M4 (1980, p. 454)
  2. The capital of Column 2 has never come to light. As to the painted capstone mentioned by Morley (1946, p. 420), no evidence has been found of its existence.


1958 The Archaeological Ceramics of Yucatan. Anthropological Records, voL 19.

University of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles.


1982 "Archaeological investigation at Xcalumkin, Campeche, Mexico: the

ceramics," Cerdmica de Cu/tura Maya et al., no. 12, pp. 10-25. Laboratory of Anthropology, Temple University, Philadelphia.


1966 Sculpture Maya. Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris.


1902 "Yukatekische Forschungen," Globus, vol. 82, pp. 197-230. Braunschweig.


1918 "Archaeology," Carnegie Institution of Washington, Year Book 17, pp.

269-276. Washington, D.C.

1946 The Ancient Maya. Stanford.


1942 Guia del museo arqueolbgico, etnognlfico e histbrico del estado. Campeche.


1980 The Puuc: An Architectural SurvelJ of the Hill Country of Yucatan and Northern Campeche, Mexico. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, vol. 19. Cambridge, Massachusetts.


1950 A Study of Classic Maya Sculpture. Carnegie Institution of Washington,

Publication 593. Washington, D.C.


1945 "Campeche en la arqueologia Maya," Acta Anthropologica, vol. 1, nos. 2,

3. Escuela Nacional de Antropologia. Mexico.


SITE VOL/Part Monument Side Page Pub.year Notes Peobody Number
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Map 149 1992
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Map of Ruins 154 1992
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Initial Series bldg map 156 1992 2 pieces
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Lintel 1 front 157 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Lintel 1 stone 1 157 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.6 Lintel 1 stone 2 158 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Lintel 2 underside 159 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Lintel 3 front edge 160 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Lintel 3 underside 160 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Lintel 4 front edge 161 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Lintel 4 underside 161 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 1 face 163 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 1 outer edge 163 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 2 face 164 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 2 outer edge 164 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 3 broad face 165 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 4 broad face 166 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 5 broad face 167 1992 1 small piece missing 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 6 inner face 168 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 6 outer edge 168 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 7 broad face 169 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 7 outer edge 169 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 8 left edge 170 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Jamb 9 right edge 171 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Column 1 Panel 173 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Column 2 Panel 174 1992 2 copies 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Column 3 Panel 175 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Column 4 Panel 176 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Column 5 Panel 177 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Column 6 Panel 178 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Panel 1 front 179 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Panel 2 w/Panel 1 front 180 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Panel 3 front 181 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Panel 4 front 182 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Panel 5 5 upper, Panel 6 183 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Panel 7 7 upper, pannel 8 185 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Capital 1 block 187 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Capital 2 block 188 1992
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Capital 3 block 189 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Capital 4 slab 190 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Capital 5 slab 191 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Cornice 1 blocks 194 1992 2004.
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Misc. 5 doorway 197 1992 2004.


SITE (by Vol) VOL/Part Author(s)
XCALUMKIN 4.3 Ian Graham and Eric von Euw, Vol 4.3, 1992