Ixlú: A Postclassic Entrepôt on Lake Petén Itzá

Author(s): Don Rice; Prudence Rice

Year: 2015


Ixlú, occupied from pre-Mamom times through the late seventeenth century, is a relatively small site on the isthmus between Lakes Petén Itzá and Salpetén. This siting conferred a strategic advantage for monitoring movements of goods and people. Just southwest of Ixlú, pairs of raised jetties or wharfs modified the lower courses of the Ríos Ixlú and Ixpop and extended into the eastern end of the main body of Lake Petén Itzá. These large, wide channels likely served as port facilities and could handle canoe traffic of different drafts; Itza canoes could hold up to 40 persons. We propose that in the Postclassic through Colonial periods Ixlú was an entrepôt: an intermediate transshipment point in long-distance trade. Ixlú and its facilities were controlled by the powerful Itzas, but at some point their eastern enemies, the Kowojs, allied with the Chak’an Itza faction to the west, challenged that control. With a substantial settlement at nearby Zacpetén, the Kowojs built a characteristic temple assemblage at Ixlú and established settlements on the northeastern shore of Lake Petén. The Ixlú port facilities were contested in the conflicts between the Kowojs/Chak’an Itzas and the Petén Itzas over Spanish demands for submission.

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Cite this Record

Ixlú: A Postclassic Entrepôt on Lake Petén Itzá. Prudence Rice, Don Rice. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396593)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;