These caverns, whose
name comes from the Maya “Lol” - Flower and “Tún” - Stone,
are the largest known from the huge cave system that covers
a great territory in southern
Yucatán. They are
located within the Puuc hills of Yucatán and are open to the
public and have been arranged for a safe tour that comprises
approximately 0.62 miles long in its interior by means of
illuminated paths. In addition to being a fabulous natural
phenomenon, Lol-Tún is an important archeological site.
These caves contain evidence of humans’ earliest presence in
Researchers have found a collection of bones belonging to
extinct mammals, including mammoths, dated from 9000 - 7500
BC. Early pre classic ceramics (2000 - 1250 BC) have also
been discovered here. The most important archeological find
is the relief called "the Warrior," which is just outside
the entrance. Researchers believe that it was carved in the
Izapan style of Kaminaljuyu, the enormous pre classic site
near Guatemala City.
interconnecting caverns are visited on occasion by bus loads
of tourists visiting the nearby ruins of
Sayil, and other
The Puuc route.
However, few realize the importance of this set of caves in
the prehistory of México. Lol-Tún has given archeologists
some of the earliest evidence of humans in the New World.
The caves were used as butchery for Ice Age fauna during the
Paleo-Indian Period of Mesoamerican prehistory.
Here, the visitor can
learn the natural and cultural history of the Northern Maya
lowlands within a 10,000 years period, from late Pleistocene
to contemporary times. In one of its cavities, locally known
as "Huechil" (from the Maya "Huech": Armadillo),
archeological excavations were carried out and in one of its
lowest levels extinct animal remains were found: Mammoth,
bison, feline and other animals bones, indicating a colder
climate period with a different environment to that of the
present. Man made stone tools appeared in a superior level,
probably produced by the first Peninsula' inhabitants.
Other material remains
have been found in this and other parts of the cave
including pottery, marine shells, stone artifacts,
bas-relief carvings, petrogliphs and mural paintings
corresponding to the distinct development stages of the Maya
Culture. From the Formative period (600 BC - 150 AD) stands
out the bas-relief carving known as "The Lol-Tún warrior"
located at the entrance of the caves, presenting inherited
traits from ancient Olmecs. Many of the archeological finds
of prehistoric cave drawings are similar to these that were
left on the nearby ruins of
Uxmal, dating to
the late Classic Period. But the hand outlines at Lol-Tún
may be centuries older.
From Classic (150 -
900 AD) and Post Classic (900 AD to 16th century)
can be observed cultural features such as mural paintings
representing hands, faces, animals, geometric motifs and
inscriptions; "Haltunes" or artificial containers carved in
the rock for gathering natural dripping water as well as
many petrogliphs, standing out those with flower motifs,
which give the name to the cavern. There are also 19th
century barricades constructed by rebel Mayas who sheltered
in these and other southern
during the so called "War of Castes."
Visitors can admire
many natural lime stone formations with capricious and
suggestive forms that popular imagination has baptized with
peculiar names such as: "Cathedral", "Grand Canyon Gallery",
"Ear of Corn", "Stalactite rooms", and so on. It is
important to notice the "Musical" columns, formed by the
union of stalactites and stalagmites that produce sounds
with different tones when they are knocked; or a magnificent
gallery with its collapsed ceiling with descending tree
roots and sun rays.
Outside of one of the
entrances to Lol-Tún Caves is a
large phallic monument.
This monolith is almost the height of a person, and is very
anatomically correct. It is a rather large example of a
phallic tradition which was widespread in the Puuc region
during the late/terminal Classic. This particular phallus
was not originally found at Lol-Tún. It was found at a small
site nearby and transported to the Lol-Tún archeological
zone for protection and for the visiting public
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