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Originally published August 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 20, 2007 at 8:48 PM

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Mayan ruins in path of hurricane

The heart of ancient Maya culture is in the path of Hurricane Dean ...zens of historical sites including the stunning seaside ruins...

The Associated Press

TULUM, Mexico — The heart of ancient Maya culture is in the path of Hurricane Dean — dozens of historical sites including the stunning seaside ruins of Tulum.

Government anthropologists said they were preparing 13 archaeological sites for the storm, shooing away tourists, pruning trees and removing signs and vegetation that strong winds could turn into damaging projectiles.

Also vulnerable is the 2.5 million-acre Sian Kaan nature reserve, which includes remnants of a canal network used by oceangoing Mayan traders 1,200 years ago. It's along the Mayan Riviera coast. In Tulum, an 800-year-old temple perches at the top of a 39-foot rocky cliff, the 800-year-old main temple at Tulum will probably escape the brunt of the waves. And these structures, built with solid rock, have withstood many tropical storms over the centuries.

Still, the storm surge could easily enter through a break in the cliff and flood other structures, covering fragments of hand-painted murals with sea water, said Carlos Esperon, the assistant head of the National Anthropological Institute in Quintana Roo.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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