184 Zonas
Clave / IDNombreResumen ENDescripción ENSabías qué EN
La Sabana. 5 de MayoOne of the largest settlements of the Costa Chica. In its first stage it covered present-day Acapulco, and in the second it extended to the foothills of the Cerro de la Bola, where 38 splendid stone carvings have been found with figures of animals, calendar counts and images of Tlaloc.

The site is on the north side of the Cerro de la Bola in the ejido of La Sabana, municipality of Acapulco. This settlement forms part of another much larger one established on the lower and flatter land to the north. In addition to the ritual site with rock carvings now found in the section that is open to the public, it had many large structures which were lost as a result of urban growth in the 1960s. Its origins were in the Early Classic, around 400 AD, while its apogee was in the Epiclassic (600-900 AD) and the population dwindled into the Early Postclassic (900-1200) when the site was abandoned.

Acapulco and its surrounding area are especially rich in rock carvings. There are sites with petroglyphs along the coastal strip which runs from Revolcadero beach, passing through the bays of Puerto Marques and Santa Lucia towards Magueyitos beach, close to the Pie de la Cuesta. The glyphs indicate the importance of representing social, economic and religious activities by a variety of forms and means of expression, and they provide evidence of human presence from the third millennium BC. With its well protected bays and with opportunities for finding resources on the coastal plain at the foot of the hills, on the sea shore and at sea, the strategic location of Acapulco has served human settlement from very ancient times up to the present.

As with other parts of Acapulco and its surrounding area, La Sabana is a site with a wealth of rock carvings. The anthropomorphic, zoomorphic (both terrestrial and marine animals), calendar-based and abstract motifs were produced by carving and abrading the blocks of granite.

These graphic expressions provide information on the site and the calculation of time. There are very many rectangular and circular format calendar counts together with various points and lines. There is also a plethora of representations of the rain and monkey gods, the latter possibly spider monkeys which were present in the state of Guerrero in pre-Hispanic times. References to the animal world are enriched by serpents and fish, which lived alongside the pre-Hispanic settlers of Guerrero, as can be seen from the imagery carved into the rocks.

  • The settlement remained abandoned for several centuries. It was reoccupied by the Tezcatec, Tuztec and Yopi people at the end of the pre-Hispanic era.
  • The original society worshiped water deities, carrying out rain ceremonies and recording natural phenomena and the passage of the stars through the firmament, which enabled them to establish their farming calendar.
From the city of Acapulco, take federal highway 200 Acapulco-Pinotepa Nacional as far as Colonia 5 de Mayo. Follow the main street, called Ciudad Perdida, to Loma Bonita street, and walk along a path until you reach the place of the rock carvings.
La VentaOne of the first cities of ancient Mexico (1200-400 BC), set in a region of lush vegetation. The imprint of the mysterious Olmecas appears in the urban layout, the amazing stone sculptures—some of them weighing up to 35 tons—and the jade offerings found here.La Venta is the oldest known Olmec city in Mesoamerica with a planned layout and a monumental architecture. It is comprised of platforms which are aligned on a north to south axis to form avenues and create open spaces. Settlers possibly first arrived in the region around the year 5,000 BC and 600 years later had already developed a remarkable culture. Large structures were built from compacted earth (stone quarries were far away), with the use of natural tar. These structures reached up to 100 feet in height on broad terraces, with enormous stone sculptures weighing up to 35 tonnes which were brought from the distant Gulf of Mexico area. These were carved with extraordinary skill and replicated the human form or combined it with animal forms to portray fantastical beings. Abundant offerings were also found underground, many of which were made from jade. There are no other comparable examples from this period in ancient Mexico.

A complex society lived here which was probably organized hierarchically, and which carried out intensive farming of corn and yucca (both of these were domesticated by the Olmecs relatively early and they yielded up to three harvests each year). They knew how to exploit the richness of the very humid alluvial soils and the abundant lakes and rivers—Tonalá River and its tributaries—as well as an ecosystem which was rich in edible plants and animals.

It is estimated that the site’s original area around 400 BC covered 500 acres. The city’s most valuable remains are grouped into four complexes. Complex A is the ceremonial enclosure, whose northern courtyard is marked out by a series of basalt columns (the mere fact of bringing them here was a great achievement); its Building A 2 contains a double tomb, made from this type of column, and the remains of two dignitaries, as well as rich offerings of jade, and another large offering of green stones (serpentine), perhaps in honor of Mother Earth. Complex B is a large ceremonial space on a spectacular platform, to the north of which the Stirling Acropolis is found (named in honor of the archeologist Matthew Stirling, who successfully explored the area between 1940 and 1943). Complex C contains the highest pyramidal base (100 feet), the Great Pyramid, in which six magnificent sculptures of fantastical beings were discovered, now in the Site Museum. Complex D consists of more than 20 platforms. Two sculptures which have been described as “altars”, also made with peerless skill, were found in one of them.

In 1955, upon excavation of the northern platform, the archeologist Eduardo Contreras found a substantial offering comprised of 16 figurines of male individuals, all carved from different green stones and framed by a row of axeheads. This discovery, known as Offering 4 of La Venta, commemorates a religious and political event which occurred approximately 1,300 years ago. It is currently exhibited in the National Museum of Anthropology.

A visit to the site is complimented by the Site Museum’s extensive exhibition and explanation of more than 200 original objects made from stone, ceramic or jade, as well as dioramas and miniatures made by expert artisans.
  • It contains the oldest pyramid in Mesoamerica.
  • Its main plinth, which is 100 feet high, dates approximately from the year 400 BC and is associated with six tombstones engraved in low relief.
  • The massive underground offerings were built to the north of this plinth, and are unique in ancient Mexico.
LabnáAlthough this is a small city, it houses three jewels: its beautiful Arch of richly carved stone; the Palace, whose facade has numerous masks of the god Chaac, and the Mirador (lookout point). It was declared a World Heritage Site together with Uxmal, Sayil and Xlapak, under the title of the Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal.Labná was a medium-sized sister city of Oxkintok and Nohpat, probably owing its allegiance to a regional capital of the Puuc region, possibly to Uxmal, Sayil or Kabah. Nevertheless the city had extraordinarily elaborate architecture which is largely still preserved. The site was populated from 200 BC, reaching its apogee between 800 and 1000 AD. Labná undoubtedly had a complex social structure and its style and decorative elements are similar to other cities of the region. In 1842 the US explorer John Lloyd Stephens and the English architect and photographer Frederick Catherwood visited the area, the latter taking some valuable images of the monuments of the ancient city.

At Labná, the profusely decorated ten foot wide by twenty foot high arch is exceptional, as are the monuments known as El Palacio ("The Palace") (two floors, with masks of the god known as "Narigudo"), and El Mirador ("The Lookout"), which is a temple on top of a pyramid. The city extended to 1.4 square miles and was home to a population of 3,000. It is listed as a World Heritage Site, under the collective title of the “Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal.”
  • In The Palace there is a courtyard buried under tons of stone.
  • The only way to reach the Sacred Precinct was via the sacbe (white path) and the route had to begin from The Palace.
  • The Arch appeared on the national gold peso bills issued by the Constitutionalist Government of Yucatán in 1916.
  • Phallic representations are common in the Puuc region and are usually related to fertility.
LagarteroJohn Lloyd Stevens described it as “a wild place of incomparable beauty…” The great civic and religious center is located on the island of El Limonal (lemon grove) and the rest of the vestiges are dispersed on little islands and peninsulas in present-day Lagos de Colón.The part of southeast Chiapas where the El Lagartero archeological site is located has a series of islands, lakes and streams surrounded by forests. The site is in the ejido of Lagos de Colón, in the Municipality of La Trinitaria, at the foot of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes very close to the Guatemala border.

The area was settled from the early Classic (300) until the Late Postclassic (1400). However it reached its peak in the Late Classic (700-900), which can be seen from the architecture and from the polychrome codex style ceramics; and this is why the city may be considered the great civic-religious center of the region. A large part of the archeological site is on small islands and peninsulas jutting out into the lakes, on the islands of Cangrejo, El Sabino, Hasam, Puente de Mora and El Búho. There are also reports of mounds making up small plazas and well-preserved structures on small unnamed islands.

The largest island, El Limonal, has the site’s central area. The island is in an area of lakes and swamps which are fed by springs as well as by the rivers Lagartero and San Lucas, upper tributaries of the Grijalva River. The underlying rock is limestone, which gives rise to a varied karst topography of crater shaped depressions, sinkholes and fissures. The vegetation is an exuberant type of scrubby forest. The plinths for each dwelling form courtyards, and the highest concentration of these is in the south part of the island. The core ceremonial area is at the north end of the island. It has altars, some small structures and six large ones: pyramids 1, 2, 3 and 4, a ballcourt and a great platform.

The main buildings include more than 15 pyramids, the largest of which is 40 feet high. There are also open and closed plazas, as well as isolated and interconnected platforms of different sizes. Plazas were defined by their civic and religious structures, while residential buildings stretched out along the lakes. Stone extracted from cenotes was used for construction, and being porous and soft, it was easy to work, but also eroded and disintegrated easily, which is why few temples made from this stone have survived. The ancient inhabitants of El Lagartero lived by farming corn, beans and other plants and marine species.
  •  A stela, which is around one thousand year old, was found in late 2009. In bas-relief, it shows the transfer of power between two Mayan groups.
  • The remains of two large earthenware pots were found at the top level of Pyramid 4, and near these there was a black vessel with a zoomorphic cover which contained rich jadeite offerings, most notably ear flares, a jointed turtle and necklace beads.
  • Four incomplete alligator heads confirm that the site was originally named after the reptile, which was a symbol of the underworld for the Maya.
  • Ceramics and remains of textiles were found in the ossuary, as well as copper pendants, a copper rattle and an amber ear flare.
LambityecoIts main activity was trade and production of salt. Contemporary with Monte Albán, the Zapotec lineage established here left a historical artistic bequest of magnificent stucco reliefs and artefacts made of bone, as well as mural paintings that can still be seen.The archeological site of Lambityeco is 15 miles southeast of Oaxaca city and just over a mile from the city of Tlacolula via the international highway that goes to the isthmus of Tehuantepec. Lambityeco has a very important place in the archeological story of the Central Valleys of the state of Oaxaca on account of important archeological finds and the singular importance of its earthern architecture, which is a good example from the pre-Hispanic era of people's efforts to adapt to the resources available in the environment, and this was achieved harmoniously at Lambityeco.

The name of Lambityeco comes originally from Zapotec and it has two interpretations according to the official records:

• “Yeguih” river of the guavas
• “Lambi” which appears to be a Zapotec corruption of the Spanish “alambique,” a reference to the pot stills, or alembics, used for boiling salt water to obtain salt, while “pityec” is the Zapotec word for mound.

Lambityeco therefore means the “alembic mounds.” This latter interpretation fits with the presence today of salt beds to the south of the archeological site, and it is assumed that the archeological site was a center for the production and exchange of this product, furthermore it is thought that it accounted for 90% of the salt production in the Oaxaca valley between the years 600 and 750.

Research indicates that the actual extent of the site is 290 acres, including 197 mounds corresponding to different building stages, which make it possible to identify the periods of occupation from 700 BC until its apogee between 600-750 AD. The mounds have been classified according to their size, giving more than 80 mounds classified under 1 meter (3 feet 3 inches) in height, while there are 90 mounds between one meter and 10 meters (32 feet 9 inches). At least two exceed 10 meters in height.

This period coincides with the great flourishing of Monte Alban, when Lambityeco served as an important center of production and an alternative city market of the Zapotec state. One hundred and forty-one of the 197 mounds demonstrate evidence of occupation, covering a residential area of 160 acres, with a population estimated at 3,000 persons.

The Zapotec lineage established here was typified by artistic richness which was expressed in decorative architectural features such as stucco reliefs and mural paintings, as well as in artifacts worked in bone, also in the variety of funerary urns recovered from the known burials. After Monte Alban ceased to be a dominant power in the valley of Oaxaca, Lambityeco and other small settlements reestablished political power and control over less extensive territories, but like other ethnic groups of Mesoamerica, they used marriage alliances between the different lineages, which helped ensure the political and economic stability of the region.
  • The representations of figures which can be seen in Building 195 show the most important people who lived and were buried in this place.
  • In Structure 190 there are two masks of Cocijo modeled in stucco.
  • In 2016 a carved stone with a representation of a crocodile was excavated and retrieved. This can now be seen in Building 190.
Las FloresThis ancient Huasteca city (1000 – 1250 AD) is situated in the urban area of Tampico, whose growth has destroyed most of the site. However, there still remains the remarkable Pyramid of the Flowers, the study of which has thrown light on this culture.More than 20 buildings made up this Huastec site on top of raised land to the eastern side of Lake El Chairel. Topographical surveys were carried out in the 1920s by a few people interested in the region’s archeology. Thanks to these, we know that the buildings of Las Flores surrounded a plaza, a space used for the community’s civic, religious and administrative activities, with more buildings heading westwards towards Lake El Chairel. With the passing of time and as the city of Tampico grew, only one ancient temple was left standing, known as Mound A.

Las Flores is a very important site in the Huastec region, embracing the complex of lakes formed between the rivers Pánuco and Tamesí. Its strategic location high on a hill enabled it to dominate other local settlements, which points to the conclusion that it exercised political and religious control. On the other hand Las Flores shows traces of the coexistence of two groups, one clearly related to Huastec culture, as can be seen from archeological finds associated with the goddess Teem, while the other culture displays a foreign style.
  • Items of singular beauty were found during archeological excavations, such as the goddess Teem, or a fertility goddess, which is currently on display in the Regional Museum of Potosi.
  • Mound A presents an innovative form of waterproofing, with its stucco made of lime and shells.
Las HiguerasThe best legacy of Totonaca art. This city flourished from 600 to 900 AD, and thanks to the amazing murals on the walls of its structures, where scenes of rituals, temples, people, animals and symbols are depicted, it has been possible to learn about the development of the peoples of this zone.
Las LabradasAn extraordinary testimony to the ancient inhabitants, unique not only because of the beach location, but because of the more than 700 rock carvings on volcanic boulders. The motifs of plants, flowers, animals and geometric figures are undamaged by the sea.This archeological site, bordered by dense mangrove trees, is located on an area of the beach containing basaltic rocks of volcanic origin. More than 700 carvings have been made here, depicting humans, animals, plants and geometric figures.

Since 2009, the INAH has been carrying out continuous research into the engravings and the cultures which settled in the region during the pre-Hispanic era. More than 20 settlements have been identified thanks to the archeological studies carried out in the surrounding areas. In principle, the existence of a pre-ceramic occupation (7000-5500 BC) was discovered. This arose before farming began on the American continent and is characterized by a stoneworking industry in which leaf-shaped arrowheads are found (Lerma style). Another settlement was established much later, with the presence of ceramic and other archeological materials corresponding to a sedentary culture (Chicayota culture) linked to the Aztatlán tradition (750-1250).

Las Labradas is the first archeological settlement open to the public in Sinaloa. It was declared a zone of archeological monuments on November 30, 2012. Its engravings are found on the surface of the rocks as individual figures or as panels (of two or more figures). Furthermore, they are not distributed in a defined pattern. Some of them are concentrated in groups or sets and others are isolated, although the cause of this distribution is mostly due to the physical characteristics of this same grouping.

Manufacturing techniques include abrasion and percussion. Low-relief and high-relief motifs are frequent, together with the simple removal of the upper layer of the rocks. These are of many different sizes and are distinguished by their smooth and polished surface, rounded by the sea. They also have a dark and opaque color, presenting various different tones of grey over the course of the day. Additionally, large quantities of pebbles are present, the products of a geological event which took place thousands of years ago.

At least nine rock engravings exist which have some sort of spatial and, in some cases, numerical connection. These are related to the four cardinal points, the solar elements and the proximity to the imaginary line of the Tropic of Cancer. This is the case with one of the largest rocks at the start of the path from the entrance to the archeological site. A double contoured cross inside a rectangle can be seen on it, which represents the four directions or cardinal points.

Similarly, a celebration of the summer solstice seems to be symbolically represented in Las Labradas. The solar elements depicted in the geometric figures and in the majority of the human characters suggest the presence of an ancient pre-Hispanic world view. In the majority of the engravings, the sun is replicated as the center, origin and point of convergence (in its spatial and geometric aspect), as light, fire, heat and wave movement (in its natural aspect) and as an object of contemplation, worship, exaltation and transformation (in its metaphysical aspect).

It is also possible to observe various petroglyphs along the route which represent characters with circular and triangular heads, open or raised arms and completed or half-completed bodies. There are also some showing only a face. Some figures have no hair and others have a range of spiked hairstyles. Sometimes, there is a small line for a mouth, while the nose is represented in only very few cases.
  • Las Labradas is a unique site in the American continent due to its geological, natural and cultural characteristics.
  • Since 2012, the Mexican government has been promoting the archeological site to encourage UNESCO to list it as a World Heritage Site.
  • The ancient inhabitants made the most of the natural formation of the rocks. In fact, there are many representations of faces on the corners, which is characteristic of this archeological site.
Las PilasSurrounded by springs, its inhabitants were highly adept in the management of underground water and they built a complex system of channels for collecting and storing water. It was a site for the worship of water, with remarkable burials in the channels.Urban sprawl has encroached onto the site of the archeological remains. The part which has been preserved was once a ceremonial area with six mounds from the period of Teotihuacan occupation. The four that have been excavated are divided into two areas known as Plaza A and Plaza B.

The size of these structures was reduced and architectural features were erased as a result of farming and settlement after the decline of the site. The only surviving evidence of this architecture, apart from stucco fragments, is part of the slab built into the slope of Structure 3 and the altar of Plaza B.

Water was fundamental to the physical development and belief system of Las Pilas. The two systems for water collection were fed by various springs in this area. The first platforms which gave rise to this ceremonial center were constructed at the same time as these systems, serving as the base for later construction, and enriched by the new ideas which arrived as a result of Teotihuacan’s expansion. Nevertheless, the discovery in the upper part of the first channel of an offering with two Preclassic pots similar to those at Chalcatzingo dates Las Pilas to an earlier period.

The second system is the more complex and better preserved of the two. It consists of two long channels which emerge from Structures 2 and 3, with other short ones converging at the former. They are constructed from river stones and are covered with slabs, taking water to a sedimentation chamber in the center of the plaza, with another channel leading to a cistern.

When the second system was abandoned, it became a burial ground for high ranking individuals. The bodies were placed within or at the sides of the channels with the legs in the lotus position and with abundant offerings. Notable among these is a pot bearing an effigy of Tlaloc and a number of cone-shaped figures with zoomorphic or fantastical heads, known as tepictoton or “conitos” (little cones). Fray Bernardino de Sahagún described them as representations of the mountains where the clouds were formed. They are currently on display in the Cuauhnahuac Museum of Cuernavaca. The three highest-ranking individuals were buried in a tomb close to the center of the plaza. The most important offering was a pendant representing Tlaloc, alongside bead necklaces and ear flares with hanging beads made from a blue-green stone.

The ceremonial center began to decline around 650 AD when Teotihuacan, its major center of influence, fell from power. Subsequently it became a temporary or permanent settlement used by various groups. In the early sixteenth century Jonacatepec is mentioned as paying tribute to the Mexica, and subsequently as the seat of government of a group of Tlalnahua towns.

During colonial times it was part of the marquisate of Hernán Cortés, and hence its importance was reduced to that of a center of evangelization and a stopping point for the mendicant orders on their route to Guerrero and Oaxaca. Sometime afterwards Jonatepec formed part of the sugar cane haciendas of Chicomocelo and Santa Clara Montefalco, until the restitution of irrigated and rainfed lands began by presidential decree in 1926.
  • INAH began the excavation of Las Pilas after intervening when a mound was destroyed to construct a swimming pool.
  • The two water collection systems were similar, but the later one is better preserved.
  • The stored water was used for irrigation to boost intensive farming.
  • The site occupied the eastern side of the natural swimming spot, where there is still an ancient spring. For a number of years the spring supplied water to the town and this might be what gave the site its name.
  • Mound 6, to the south, is on private land which was confiscated by a bank. It is in the process of being donated to the Morelos INAH Center.
LoltúnThese caves provide a fascinating experience. Galleries and natural formations, with stone paintings and carvings, allow visitors a vision of primitive people in the region, and the domestication of plants and animals, until they became sedentary. The site dates back to 9000 BC.To date the Loltún caves have the longest chronological sequence of any site discovered in the north of the Yucatan peninsula. The evidence found in these caves suggests that they were used as an encampment in earliest times and then subsequently as a dwelling place. The process of occupation began towards 9000 BC with material remains showing from the early presence of man in this region. The caves’ occupation ran parallel to the domestication of plants and animals and up to the incorporation of architectural design and sculpture into everyday life, illustrating the development of society from nomadic to settled living. From the Classic period the caves ceased to be used as dwellings and it is only certain that they were used for water storage. Other important features are the 145 mural paintings and the 42 petroglyphs found to date. The caves were used most intensively in the Late Preclassic period from 400 to 200 BC.

In 1886 and 1892, Teoberto Maler, a well-known Mayan scholar born in Italy of German parents, visited Loltún and made a few prints and paintings of what he found inside the cave. Shortly afterwards, between 1888 and 1891, the US archeologist and diplomat Edward H. Thompson undertook excavations at Loltún financed by the Peabody Museum of Harvard University. Thompson, who was working as the United States vice-consul, was also behind the dredging of the sacred cenote of Chichen Itza. In 1895, Henry C. Mercer of the University of Pennsylvania visited 29 caves and excavated 10 in the Puuc mountain range with the aim of studying the social and anatomical development of man in the Americas, but he failed to find caves of similar antiquity to those in Europe. Into the twentieth century, the first map of the caves was made by Jack Grant and Bill Dailey, and they discovered the sculpture known as the Loltún Head.

The first excavations by the INAH were carried out in 1978, under the guidance of archeologist Ricardo Velázquez Valadez. The material found in the explorations of the 1970s and 1980s revealed that the Loltún cave had been occupied as far back as 9000 BC, and that at that time the cave must have been an abundant source of natural resources used by groups of hunter gatherers, as evidenced by the finds: stone material with possible marks of wear, pictorial motifs and bone remains of now extinct fauna. This important evidence positions Loltún as a unique cave in northern Yucatan, with archeological finds from the archaic period.

The cave provided suhuy ha’ (virgin water) for everyday use and divination ceremonies, clay for making pots and stone as a raw material. It was a place of veneration and offerings.
  • The remains of Pleistocene fauna have been found at Loltún.
  • The earliest human settlement in the Yucatan peninsula was at Loltún.
  • Man inhabited this cave before plants were domesticated.
Los Cerritos de San Cristóbal TepatlaxcoLocated very close to San Martín Texmelucan, the origin of the early settlers is unknown. A fortified site with a strong Olmec influence, it maintained trade relations with a number of villages in the Puebla-Tlaxcala valley. Most notable are the plinths built on the edge of the ravines.

The site is located 1.2 miles from San Martín Texmelucan, on the lower southwestern flanks of Cerro Totolqueme, and half a mile to the north of Atoyac River, in the town of San Cristóbal Tepatlaxco, in the state of Puebla. Much of the archeological zone is limited to the south, east, west and northwest by ravines that become deeper towards the north.

This site was given the name of the nearest town, which is derived from the Nahautl words tecpan- (palace), tlachtli- (ballgame) and co- (place). Tecpantlaxco therefore translates as "in the ballcourt of the  palace." There is, however, another interpretation in which the name is thought to be derived from the word Tepatlaixco, which means "plain of rocky ground" or "enclosed by stones." It is popularly known as "the hills of San Cristóbal Tepatlaxco."

The archeological site was inhabited between 300 BC and 600 AD and is thought to be a fortified place of Olmec influence. However, we only really know that the inhabitants of Tepatlaxco must have maintained trade and family relationships with the inhabitants of Tlalancaleca, San Martín Texmelucan, Moyotzingo and numerous settlements in what is now the Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley. These relationships are inferred from elements and materials found onsite which are similar to those from the aforementioned areas. The site has nine pyramid bases with heights ranging from approximately 8 to 30 feet. However, as these bases lie at the edge of the ravines, they appear to be taller.

The temples and platforms were built using irregular blocks of tepetate stone, and then clad in river pebbles and a layer of stucco (crushed limestone), leaving a smooth and shiny finish.


Los MelonesHere lie the ruins of the great city of Texcoco, capital of Acolhuacan (660 to 1521), where once stood the poet king Nezahualcóyotl's palace. Nowadays, only a small architectural complex remains, which allows us to admire the skill of its inhabitants at cutting and maneuvering enormous blocks of stone.Los Melones lies to the south of the city of Texcoco de Mora in the State of Mexico. The archeological evidence recovered allows us to date construction to the site to the Late Postclassic (1400 to 1450), a time at which Texcoco was the capital of Acolhuacan. It is one of the few places to preserve architectural evidence of the ancient Acolhua settlement, as several ethnic groups were involved in the region’s social development, chiefly the Otomi and Nahua, who ruled the eastern side of the basin of Mexico.

The temples and foundations of Los Melones were built with blocks of adobe (cores) faced with tezontle (volcanic rock) and plastered with stucco, which was obtained by mixing lime, sand and tezontle gravel. Due to the extraction of tezontle for reuse in the colonial period, the facings have now been lost, leaving the adobe cores exposed.

The West Building preserves two sections in which we may observe the remains of floors, a stucco wall and a sloping wall. The East Building preserves traces of stucco plaster and a fragment of stairway, as well as the remains of rooms with stucco floors, a fragment of a drainage channel and the bases of dividing walls. There appears to have been a plaza between these buildings.

The southern side preserves an area with an antechamber, marked inside from its entrance via a walkway; in the center, there is a rectangular element carved in stone with a cavity and a protrusion.

Another important detail are the two Mesoamerican ballgame markers carved in basalt, found at the site entrance.
  • This is one of the few explored sites to provide evidence of what was once the great pre-Hispanic city of Texcoco.
Los Reyes La PazThis is a small settlement that was subjugated by the Acolhua. It maintains a westward-facing pyramid, which is unusual for Mesoamerica and leads us to suppose that it was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. There are rooms next to the pyramid in which the rulers lived.In Los Reyes Acaquilpan lies the archeological site of Los Reyes ("The Kings"), which consists of a large platform. At the top of this platform, we can see a pyramid-shaped structure of three stepped sections, which was built in three stages from the Early Postclassic (1100-1200 AD) to the Late Postclassic (1200-1521 AD). The structure indicates that this was a small settlement which formed part of the political-territorial dynamics of the province of Acolhuacan.

Los Reyes’ pyramid platform architecture is a good example of the construction techniques prevalent in the Valley of Mexico during the Postclassic. The building is oriented east-west in order to follow the course of the sun. On the structure’s south side are the ruins of an attached residential unit.

The settlement began to develop during the Mazapa phase (800-1100 AD), as shown by the remains of Toltec culture that have been found. By the Late Postclassic (1200-1430 AD), the area was reoccupied by the Toltec-Chichameca, whose center was in Tenayuca.

Later, during the influx of the Mexica into the basin of Mexico, the Los Reyes site could have come under the dominion of Chimalhuacan, which in turn rendered tribute to Texcoco until the arrival of the Spanish.
  • The proximity of Los Reyes to the Santa Catarina volcano allowed most of its inhabitants to earn a living by extracting tezontle stone.
Los TepoltzisLocated on top of one of the hills close to the town of Tixtla, leads us to believe that this small ceremonial center was dedicated to the Rain god. The skill of its inhabitants in working stone is patent in the masks and figures they have left at this site.
MalinalcoThis site is unique in Mesoamerica, as it was carved in one piece out of an enormous rock on the edge of a cliff for military initiation purposes. The site was created by the Mexica not long before the Spanish conquest, and is dedicated to the initiation of Eagle and Jaguar-Ocelot warriors. It contains splendid sculptures of these symbols.Originally a Matlatzinca city, Malinalco was conquered by the Mexica in approximately 1476. It served as a checkpoint for trade routes, a garrison and a point for protecting an important aqueduct to Tenochtitlan. Besides training and consecrating elite warriors, it was a sanctuary to the cult of war gods, as well as agricultural deities. Its name could refer to Malinalxóchitl (“the place where Malinalxóchitl lives," “where she is worshipped” or in turn “flower of the plant for making rope," “the malinalli flower”) goddess of witchcraft and fateful divination, sister of Huitzilopochtli and Coyolxauhqui.

Inhabited since before the current era, it received influence from Teotihuacan (only recognizable from pottery remains) and then benefited from and partially controlled trade with Tierra Caliente (the current states of Morelos and Guerrero) and the Central Mexican Plateau. The ritual practice of human sacrifice performed on warriors captured in the “xochiyáoyotl” or “flower war” seems to have been important here.

Its most noteworthy monuments are in the Cuauhtinchan (“eagle’s aerie”) complex, which is the best-preserved portion. The monolithic temple known as the Cuauhtinchan, which was engraved to celebrate military rituals, stands out among the carved buildings, as it is the only one of its kind in Mesoamerica. The settlement has a complicated layout, and this appears to have been for the purposes of defense. Councils of war were undoubtedly held in one of its structures.

For its part, the Cuauhcalli (“house of the eagles”), also called Temple I or the Monolithic Temple owing to its having been carved out of solid rock, was the setting for military and probably religious gatherings. Its roof has been reconstructed from local materials such as palm and timber, recreating the original on the basis of details of clay statuettes found in the archeological zone as well as the post holes and rainwater channels carved from the rock of the building itself. It has a staircase flanked with two ocelot sculptures and a third one in the center (which probably served as a banner stand), as well as runoff channels to protect the building from the rain. Its main door is in the shape of the jaws of a serpent which represents the Earth Monster. On the floor outside the door, we can also see a carving of a forked tongue, in front of which there is an opening for depositing offerings. This door leads to an area surrounded by a circular walkway, on which we observe the figure of an ocelot and two eagles with their wings spread as if in flight. However, these actually represent fine rugs, because their claws are stretched behind them and not below the body. In the case of the ocelot, its paws are in a similar pose: open and not about to pounce. There is an eagle with its wings tucked behind it in the middle of the sanctuary, behind which is a hole for depositing the ritual blood offering.

It is believed that the remains of warriors who had fallen in battle were cremated in Building III or Tzinacalli (“house of the burners”).

Letters written by Hernán Cortés mention that, in 1521, he entrusted Captain Andrés de Tapia with conquering and bringing to heel the Mexica garrison and population of Malinalco, after which the survivors were then handed over in tribute.

The site was first explored in 1905, the results of which were described by Doctor Francisco Plancarte y Navarrete, the second bishop of Cuernavaca, who believed that Malinalco had been dedicated to the cult of Xiuhtecuhtli, the god of fire. A second exploration led by the archeologist Enrique Juan Palacio in 1925 gave a clearer idea of the size and importance of the zone. Recent explorations and systematic excavations conducted by the INAH have shed a great deal of light on this surprising site.
  • Malinalco is the only monolithic site in Mesoamerica. It was all carved from a single rock, with tools also made of stone.
  • Six monumental structures are located on the summit of Cerro de los Ídolos (Hill of the Idols). The different sections of the Cuauhtinchan could be overlooked from this area, which is about an acre in size and 6,971 feet above sea level.
  • It was a strategic point for the Mexica empire’s interests between 1476 and 1521 AD.
  • The Cuahcalli is the only temple dedicated to war rituals we know of to date. Eagle and ocelot warriors pierced themselves here and inserted jewelry in the cartilage between their nostrils and in the front of their chins.


Los contenidos de este portal pertenecen al Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México, pueden ser descargados y compartidos sin modificaciones siempre que se reconozca su autor y sin fines comerciales.

logo mediateca blanco

Lugares INAH