Uxmal was founded by the Xiu, one of the Maya-Mexican tribes which invaded Yucatan at the end of the tenth century. The city is located in a great, cup-like valley just behind the range of hills that sweep up from the southwest and southeast, coming to a point just south of the modern town of Maxcanu. Says Landa concerning the foundation of this city:
"And they say that these tribes [the Xiu or Tutul Xiu] wandered around in the uninhabited parts of Yucatan for forty years without there being any water in that time except that which came from the rain, and that at the end of that time they reached the mountains which lie almost opposite the city of Mayapan and ten leagues from it. And there, they began to settle and to construct very good buildings in many places; and the people of Mayapan became very good friends with them and were glad to see that they cultivated the land as the natives do; and in this way those of Tutul Xiu subjected themselves to the laws of Mayapan and thus they intermarried and as the lord Xiu of the Tutul Xiu was such, he came to be very much esteemed by everybody."
Sylvanus Morley, The Ancient Maya, p. 329