I n t r o d u c t I o n
From Archive to Ashes
at the center of the small town of Ucœ stands a
sixteenth-century church and directly adjacent to it a
large pile of stones and earth. The mound is probably
the remains of an ancient Mayan temple platform—the
work, as inhabitants generally say here as elsewhere in
rural Yucat‡n, of los antiguos. Some of the stones, when I
first saw the mound, had been rearranged in crisscross-
ing lines and painted red, white, and green, Mexico’s
national colors. Crosses were planted on top of the pile,
which sometimes was used for church ceremonies.
Ucœ’s mound was a presence both ancient and modern,
a reformed ruin, its stones and earth subject to multiple
claims to the land and its past.
Located just outside MŽrida, the capital of the state
of Yucat‡n, Ucœ is the gateway to the towns, pueblos,
haciendas, and woodlands of what I call the Hunucm‡
region, after one of its principal towns. Located in the
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