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Tulum's most significant feature is its location. It stands on a bluff facing the rising sun looking out on views of the Caribbean that are nothing less than spectacular. In Maya, Tulum means "Wall" and it is one of the very few walled cities that the Mayan’s ever built. It was called Tulum in the early 20th century just before the beginning of the Caste War when the explorers Stephens and Catherwood rediscovered it, completely abandoned. Research suggests it was called Zama or "to dawn" in its day, which is appropriate given the location. Tulum was the largest Maya coastal city and the only Maya city known to have been inhabited when the Spanish arrived.
The earliest date identified from the site is A.D. 564 from an inscription on a stele. This places Tulum within the Classic period, though we know that its heyday was much later, during the Late Post-classic period (1200 - 1521 A.D.). Tulum was a major link in the Maya's extensive trade network. Both maritime and land routes converged here. Artifacts found in or near the site testify to contacts that ranged from Central Mexico to Central America and every place in between:
Copper rattles and rings from the Mexican highlands;
Flint and ceramics from all over the Yucatán;
Jade and obsidian from Guatemala and more
The first Europeans to see Tulum were probably Juan de Grijalva and his men as they sailed reconnaissance along the Eastern coast of Yucatán; in 1518. The Spaniards later returned to conquer the Peninsula and unwittingly brought Old World diseases which decimated the native population.
We only had a short time here before it started raining very heavily. The skies were generally darkening as Hurricane Wilma approached....