This Landsat view of Laguna de Terminos shows a cluster of Late Postclassic Maya sites skirting the barrier island, beach ridge, and mangrove coastline. In the Late and Terminal Classic periods (AD 600-1000), major towns and trading sites existed along the the Río San Pedro (lower left corner) and Río Candaleria.
At the time of the Spanish arrival in 1517-1519, regional trading centers at Xicalango and Champotón had been functioning throughout the Postclassic era as politically neutral ports of trade, serving as jumping off points for coastal boat commerce ranging as far as Central America and the Antilles. Both the Cordoba and Grijalva expeditions landed at Champotón, and Grijalva and Cortés each stopped at Laguna de Terminos. Perhaps due to its importance as a Mayan settlement and trading area, Laguna de Terminos is shown in exaggerated scale on the 1524 Cortés map.
[Fig.1: Satellite image of Laguna de Terminos with Postclassic Maya coastal sites (NASA/JPL).]
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