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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lost Missions of Yucatán - Oxtankah/Tamalcab


The southernmost of the lost Yucatán missions occupies a coastal site known as Oxtankah/Tamalcab.
Oxtankah is an extensive Mayan archaeological site, located beside the seasonal island of Tamalcab, 16km north of Chetumal, the capital city of the State of Quintana Róo.


  As with the other coastal mission sites, the 16th century ramada chapel is located within the perimeter of the ancient Maya ceremonial center—in this case, on its northern periphery.

Built on a broad, raised foundation—a former temple platform —the rectangular chapel was at one time fronted by a pole and thatch nave. All that stands of the mission today is the original open chapel or apse of the church.

Constructed of rubblestone (mamposteria) this now roofless but clearly substantial structure is identified by its surviving arch.  The chapel, probably originally covered by a stone or bovedilla barrel vault, retains its raised altar and a lateral doorway to the former side room—probably the sacristy or friar's quarters.
Oxtankah, rear view of apse 

text: © 2012 Richard D. Perry.  Photography: © I D Rangel et al

In editing this series, we should like to acknowledge our debt to the pioneering work of the eminent 
Yucatan archeologist and historian Anthony P. Andrews

       

For more on the history and art of the Yucatan missions, consult our published guides. 


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