Coba

Coba

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Coba'
Start a new discussion about 'Coba'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Coba is a large ruined city of the Pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 Maya civilization
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

, located in the state of Quintana Roo
Quintana Roo
Quintana Roo officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Quintana Roo is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 10 municipalities and its capital city is Chetumal....

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. It is located about 90 km east of the Maya site of Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán state, present-day Mexico....

, about 40 km west of the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

, and 44 km northwest of the site of Tulum, with which it is connected by a modern road. The 2010 Mexican federal census reported a population of 1,278 inhabitants.

Site layout and description


Coba is located around two lagoons. A series of elevated stone and plaster roads radiate from the central site to various smaller sites near and far. These are known by the Maya term sacbe
Sacbe
right|thumb|Sacbe at Dzibilchaltun in the Yucatánthumb|right|Arch at the end of the sacbé, Kabah, YucatánSacbe, plural Sacbeob, or "white ways" are raised paved roads built by the Maya civilization of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica...

(plural sacbeob). Some of these causeways go east to the Caribbean coast, and the longest runs over 100 kilometres (62.1 mi) westwards to the site of Yaxuna
Yaxuna
Yaxuna is a Maya archaeological site in the municipality of Yaxcabá in Yucatán, Mexico.The settlement had a long continuous occupation running from the Middle Formative Period through the Postclassic. The Late Formative saw the construction of a number of triadic architectural groups linked with...

. The site contains several large temple pyramids, the tallest, in what is known as the Nohoch Mul group of structures, being some 42 metres (137.8 ft) in height.

Coba is estimated to have had some 50,000 inhabitants (and possibly significantly more) at its peak of civilization, and the built up area extends over some 80 km². The site was occupied by a sizable agricultural population by the 1st century. The bulk of Coba's major construction seems to have been made in the middle and late Classic period, about 500 to 900, with most of the dated hieroglypic inscriptions from the 7th century. However Coba remained an important site in the Post-Classic era and new temples were built and old ones kept in repair until at least the 14th century, possibly as late as the arrival of the Spanish
Spanish conquest of Yucatán
The Spanish conquest of Yucatán was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Maya states and polities, particularly in the northern and central Yucatán Peninsula but also involving the Maya polities of the Guatemalan highlands region...

.

Economy


Coba traded extensively with other Mayan communities, particularly the ones further south along the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 coast in what is now Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

 and Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

. It utilized the ports of Xcaret
Xcaret
Xcaret is a Maya civilization archaeological site located on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the modern-day state of Quintana Roo in Mexico. The site was occupied by the pre-Columbian Maya and functioned as a port for navigation and an important Maya trading center...

, Xel-Há
Xel-Há
Xelha is an archaeological site of the Maya civilization from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, located on the eastern coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the present-day state of Quintana Roo, Mexico...

, Tancah, Muyil
Muyil
Muyil was one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya sites on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is located approximately south of the coastal site of Tulum, in the Municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Artifacts found here date back...

, and Tulum.

History


Archaeological evidence indicates that Cobá was first settled between 100 BC and 100 AD. At that time, there was a town with buildings of wood and palm fronts and flat platforms. The only archeological evidence of the time are fragments of pottery. After 100 AD, the area around Coba evidenced strong population growth, and with it an increase in its social and political status among Maya city states which would ultimately make Coba one of the biggest and most powerful city states in the northern Yucatán area. Between 200 and 600 AD, Coba must have dominated a vast area, including the north of the state of Quintana Roo and areas in the east of the state of Yucatán. This power resided in its control of large swaths of farmland, control over trading routes, and—critically for a Mayan city—control over ample water resources. Among the trading routes, Coba probably controlled ports like Xel Há.

Coba must have maintained close contacts with the large city states of Guatemala and the south of Campeche like Tikal, Dzibanché or Calakmul. To maintain its influence, Coba must have established military alliances and arranged marriages among their elites. It is quite noteworthy that Coba shows traces of Teotihuacan architecture, like a platform in the Paintings group that was explored in 1999, which would attest of the existence of contacts with the central Mexican cultures and it's powerful city of the early Classic epoch.

After 600 AD, the emergence of powerful city states of the Puuc culture and the emergence of Chichén Itzá altered the political spectrum in the Yucatán peninsula and began eroding the dominance of Coba. Beginning around 900 or 1000 AD, Coba must have begun a lengthy power struggle with Chichén Itzá, with the latter dominating at the end as it gained control of key cities such as Yaxuná. After 1000 AD, Coba lost much of its political weight among city states, although it maintained some symbolic and religious importance. This allowed it to maintain or recover some status, which is evidenced by the new buildings dating to the time 1200-1500 AD, now built in the typical Eastern coastal style. However, power centers and trading routes had moved to the coast, forcing cities like Coba into a secondary status, although somewhat more successful than its more ephemeral enemy Chichén Itzá. Coba was abandoned at the time the Spanish conquered the peninsula around 1550.

Modern explorations


Knowledge of this expansive site was never completely lost, but it was not examined by scholars until the 1920s. John Lloyd Stephens
John Lloyd Stephens
John Lloyd Stephens was an American explorer, writer, and diplomat. Stephens was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization throughout Middle America and in the planning of the Panama railroad....

 mentioned hearing reports of the site in 1841, but it was so distant from any known modern road or village that he decided the difficulty in trying to get there was too daunting. For much of the rest of the 19th century the area could not be visited by outsiders due to the Caste War of Yucatán
Caste War of Yucatán
The Caste War of Yucatán began with the revolt of native Maya people of Yucatán, Mexico against the population of European descent, called Yucatecos, who held political and economic control of the region. A lengthy war ensued between the Yucateco forces in the north-west of the Yucatán and the...

. Teoberto Maler
Teoberto Maler
Teoberto Maler or Teobert Maler was an explorer who devoted his energies to documenting the ruins of the Maya civilization....

 paid Coba a short visit in 1893 and took at least one photograph, but unfortunately did not publish at the time and the site remained unknown to the archeological community.

Amateur explorer Dr. Thomas Gann
Thomas Gann
Thomas William Francis Gann was a medical doctor by profession, but is best remembered for his work as an amateur archaeologist exploring ruins of the Maya civilization....

 was brought to the site by some local Maya hunters in February 1926. Gann published the first first-hand description of the ruins later the same year. Gann gave a short description to the archeologists of the Carnegie Institution project at Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán state, present-day Mexico....

, which sent out an expedition under J. Eric S. Thompson
J. Eric S. Thompson
Sir John Eric Sidney Thompson was an English Mesoamerican archeologist and epigrapher. His contributions to the understanding of Maya hieroglyphs lead him to be one of the foremost mid-20th century anthropological scholars. He was generally known as J. Eric S...

. Thompson's initial report of a surprisingly large site with many inscriptions prompted Sylvanus Morley
Sylvanus Morley
Sylvanus Griswold Morley was an American archaeologist, epigrapher, and Mayanist scholar who made significant contributions toward the study of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in the early twentieth century....

 to mount a more thorough examination of the site.

Eric Thompson made a number of return visits to the site through 1932, in which year he published a detailed description.

The site remained little visited due to its remoteness until the first modern road was opened up to Coba in the early 1970s. As a major resort was planned for Cancún
Cancún
Cancún is a city of international tourism development certified by the UNWTO . Located on the northeast coast of Quintana Roo in southern Mexico, more than 1,700 km from Mexico City, the Project began operations in 1974 as Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR Cancún is a city of...

, it was realized that clearing and restoring some of the large site could make it an important tourist attraction.

The Mexican National Institute of Anthropology & History began some archeological excavations in 1972 directed by Carlos Navarrete, and consolidated a couple buildings. At the start of the 1980s another road to Coba was opened up and paved, and a regular bus service begun.

Coba became a tourist destination shortly thereafter, with many visitors visiting the site on day trips from Cancún and the Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya, also known as the Mayan Riviera, is a tourism district following the coastal Highway 307 which parallels the Caribbean coastline of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, located on the eastern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula...

. Only a small portion of the site has been cleared from the jungle and restored by archaeologists.

the resident population of Coba pueblo was 1,167. It grew to 1,278 by the 2010 census.

Tourism


The archaeological site of Coba has increasingly become more visited by both national and international tourism in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. One of the main attraction to visitors of Coba is the Ancient Pyramid which unlike Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán state, present-day Mexico....

's Kukulkan Pyramid
El Castillo, Chichen Itza
;El Castillo , also known as the Temple of Kukulkan, is a Mesoamerican step-pyramid that dominates the center of the Chichen Itza archaeological site in the Mexican state of Yucatán...

, is still open for the public to climb its 120 steps up to the top of the site. Additional to this, Coba has several Tour operators with excursions available to this site from almost any point within the closest and top Touristic destinations of Cancun
Cancún
Cancún is a city of international tourism development certified by the UNWTO . Located on the northeast coast of Quintana Roo in southern Mexico, more than 1,700 km from Mexico City, the Project began operations in 1974 as Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR Cancún is a city of...

 and its Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya, also known as the Mayan Riviera, is a tourism district following the coastal Highway 307 which parallels the Caribbean coastline of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, located on the eastern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula...

.

External links