The Fascinating Archeological Site of San Gervasio

Central America - Editor - 24 February 2012

The Fascinating Archeological Site of San Gervasio

The archeological site of San Gervasio, located on Cozumel Island off the coast of Mexico, was at one time the center of worship to the Mayan goddess of midwifery, medicine, fertility and weaving, referred to as Ix Chel, meaning "She of the Rainbows". The site was dedicated to rituals and offerings in honor of Ix Chel and does not appear to have been a permanent settlement. Worshippers would travel to San Gervasio at certain times of the year to make their offerings, and there are indications that there were at one time wood and straw huts in the vicinity of the main structures, most likely to house pilgrims.

By the time the site was discovered by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, it had been abandoned and was already showing signs of neglect. Theories put forward as to the reason for this abandonment include the possibility that the diseases brought into the area by foreign explorers took their toll on the Mayan population who once used this revered spot, or that the introduction of Christianity in the area led followers to abandon what were considered to be pagan practices.

The main Structures of San Gervasio have interior stone walls, exterior columns and roofs at less than 1.2 meters in height. The main southernmost structure is thought to have been the residence of the overlord of Cozumel. It has been named Manitas, or Little Hands, being a reference to the red-colored hand prints found on the structure’s interior walls. To the east of Manitas is Chi Chan Nah, the smallest building of the site, with a number of grave markers nearby. While researchers have not established the purpose of the structure, it is thought to be connected to ritualistic practices.

The Ka'Na'Nah structure is located on the north-western border of the site and is the largest single structure in the complex. There is some archeological evidence that suggests Ka'Na'Nah was the center of worship to Ix Chel. One of the three water wells scattered around the site is located to the west of the structure. The nearby Plaza Central consists of nine of relatively small buildings placed around a square, which likely served as a marketplace. Other structures at San Gervasio include Nohoch Nah (Big House Structure), with its colored interior walls and Murcielagos, another collection of small buildings around a small square.

The ruins of San Gervasio are dated from between 600 AD and 1650 AD, and while at that time they were no doubt a hive of activity, today they stand in ruins in this remote location on Cozumel, Mexico.


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