Ichkabal is an ancient Maya archaeological site, located approximately 56 km southwest of the Calakmul, making it part of the wider Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, a vast expanse of protected rainforest.
The site is located to the west of the Laguna de los Siete Colores. Visitors will find an environment full of numerous archaeological sites of minor relevance and close to the pre-Hispanic site of Dzibanché.
Nestled within the dense tropical forests of the state of Quintana Roo, it is a remote and relatively lesser-known archaeological site. The ruins’s isolation and lush surroundings contribute to its mystical allure.
Ichkabal is an ancient archaeological jewel that surpasses Chichén Itzá and Uxmal in antiquity.
Ichkabal is the name of this pre-Columbian site of the ancient Mayans. It is a Mayan word that means “between lows”, which is probably related to the geographical characteristics of the area.
The name Ichkabal was given to it only at the beginning of 1995 when the first researchers arrived at the site with the support of guides from the area.
Ichkabal is the historical epicenter that once led a pre-Hispanic civilization. With roots dating back to the classical period from 1000 BC, Ichkabal stands as the most significant political epicenter of the Mayans in the Yucatan Peninsula.
A lineage of Divine Lords from Kanal, one of the most prominent dynasties of the Mayan civilization, originates here, adding layers of mysticism to this archaeological wonder.
Preclassic Period (c. 2000 BCE – 250 CE)
The earliest evidence of human activity in the Ichkabal area dates back to the Preclassic period. During this time, the Maya people settled in the region and began constructing rudimentary structures and temples.
Early Classic Period (c. 250 CE – 600 CE)
The Ichkabal site experienced significant growth during the Early Classic period. The construction of more elaborate temples and pyramids commenced. The city likely played a role in trade and exchange networks with other Mayan city-states in the region.
Late Classic Period (c. 600 CE – 900 CE)
The Late Classic period marked the height of Ichkabal’s prosperity and influence. The city’s population grew, and its architecture became more sophisticated. Intricate stelae, hieroglyphic inscriptions, and monuments were created during this time.
Terminal Classic Period (c. 900 CE – 1100 CE)
This period saw the decline of many Maya city-states, including Ichkabal. Factors such as warfare, environmental challenges, and political instability may have contributed to the city’s downfall.
Postclassic Period (c. 1100 CE – 1540 CE)
While Ichkabal’s prominence waned during the Terminal Classic period, there is evidence of continued occupation into the Postclassic period. The city may have served as a regional center or outpost during this time.
Spanish Conquest and Abandonment (16th Century)
With the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, many Maya cities, including Ichkabal, were abandoned. The Spanish colonization and the spread of diseases had a devastating impact on the indigenous population.
Modern Rediscovery (20th Century – Present)
Large buildings of Ichkabal were completely covered by the jungle vegetation, an aspect that made its discovery quite complicated for many years. Ichkabal has remained hidden for centuries until its fortuitous discovery in 1995.
Ongoing excavations and research have revealed valuable insights into the history and culture of this ancient Mayan city. After decades of preservation and study, Ichkabal will open its doors to the public in 2024.
The colossal dimensions of Ichkabal are truly astonishing. Its pyramids and architectural structures, which rise up to 40 m in height with pyramidal bases that reach 200 m, far exceed the magnificent buildings of Chichén Itzá.
An impressive set that is considered a tribute to the ingenuity and skill of the ancient Mayans. Three monumental structures and a central plaza of approximately 300 m, adorned with a rectangular lagoon of 80×60 m, make up this majestic setting.
Stones that line the waters of the lagoon, skillfully placed to prevent erosion, have witnessed centuries of Mayan occupation and now share their secrets with modern visitors.
From its architectural majesty to its rich history, Ichkabal is destined to offer unforgettable experiences to travelers seeking to connect with the past and marvel at the greatness of a civilization that transcends the centuries.
The archaeological remains of Ichkabal are located in the south of the Quintana Roo, about 40 km from the Laguna de los Siete Colores. It is also valuable to know that it is located about 9 km from Dzibanché.