Posted by: Johan Normark | November 13, 2012

Effects of the Spanish conquest at San Miguelito

Readers of this blog may recall that I earlier this year said that I would participate in Swedish project in cooperation with INAH in late 2012. It has been postponed to next year but the site where we are scheduled to work is in the news today. San Miguelito is located in the Hotel Zone in Cancun. It is a Postclassic site which was occupied at the time of the Spanish conquest. The site was connected to El Rey, roughly three km away. It was probably one continuous settlement. San Miguelito-El Rey site was a port founded between AD 1200-1350 and it had links to Tulum, Xcaret and Xelhá.

One of my main arguments in my cave and climate project, as indicated in my latest post on the supposed drought(s) that determined Maya history, is that this scenario depends on analogies with modern and colonial data which is better documented. I argue that the Spanish politics, enforced settlement changes, Christian conversion, diseases, etc. undermined people’s capacities to survive droughts. These scenarios are projected into the Prehispanic past in order to explain how droughts affect individuals and communities. The impacts of the Spaniards are ignored.

The data from San Miguelito supports that part of my research. INAH has so far found 47 human burials within 11 buildings from the 16th century. 30 of these were children between 3 and 6 years old who died of acute malnutrition and anemia. The deaths are the result of impoverishment caused by the Spanish conquest and the resulting breakdown in Maya trade routes. The Spanish conquest destroyed the canoe trade that had been very important during the Postclassic.

San Miguelito



  1. […] Apart from some coverage of the post-2012 events and tendencies I shall devote most time on what this blog is about: neorealist perspectives on (Maya) archaeology. From this day and onwards I am also officially part of Per Cornell’s project on the Early Modern Town which for me means the early Spanish Colonial period in Yucatan. This may also result in some fieldwork later this year at San Miguelito. […]

  2. By the way, do you know Teobaldo Ramirez Barbosa who studies the “complexity of the colonial encounter between Mayas and Spanish resulting in the construction of churches and chapels and their subsequence settlement patron”? He is a graduate student in Gotehnburg.

    • Of course I know him.


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