An article in USA Today “The anti-Cancun: Yucatan’s secret seductions” is whetting my appetite for a December visit to the Yucatan led by Dr. David Stuart’s Maya Field Workshops. I have been to the usual spots like Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Labna, and down to Coba several times, but never to Ek’ Balam (near Valladolid, between Merida and Cancun.) We will also be traveling to Coba as well (more about that in a different post.)

But Ek’ Balam is fascinating in its own right. For a great sampler of the glyphs we will see, Joel Skidmore’s photos and article at Mesoweb is a good place to start. There is an intriguing set of texts on what is called the “Heiroglyphic Serpent – West” which shows Ek’ Balam’s emblem glyph:

“The glyphs in the top row. . .spell the name of Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’.  At the lower left is the emblem glyph of Ek’ Balam, naming the ruler as a Divine Lord of Talol, as the kingdom was known in ancient times,” Skidmore writes.

A nice recap of Ek’ Balam is summarized by Dr. Stuart here:

“First, a few decades ago, archaeologists from Davidson College in North Carolina mapped the mounds and associated features and demonstrated the unique layout of the place, with a circular wall and moat defining the site center and causeways radiating outward in the four cardinal directions. Later, archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History revealed that the large mound complex on the north side of the main plaza concealed a series of nested buildings, tombs, and lengthy hieroglyphic texts. The true wonder of Ek’ Balam lies in the incredible preservation of the sculpture, some in the full round, that adorn the façades and doorways of the main structure.”

Now, that certainly sounds more interesting than Cancun!