Expert opinion
Cosmogony and Dynastic and Divine Legitimization in the Main Buildings of Maya Cities

In the integral zoomorphic facades at El Hormiguero we can admire the representation of Itzamná as a stylized serpent, with jaws and fangs framing the main entrance, above which there is a broad and prominent nose flanked by bulging, spiral eyes. Ear flares on the sides of the head are formed by three parts: in the center, a square geometric design; above, with the form of maize leaves to symbolize the growth of corn and vegetation; and finally, the lower bone-like part, evoking death and the underworld. 

Evidence suggests that the facades of the main buildings were painted, both as decoration and to denote symbolic and chronological importance; historical and dynastic information about the elite was possibly recorded here, rather than carved on stelae, as happened in cities of the Petén region such as Calakmul, Uxul, La Muñeca and other sites.

Such buildings are believed to have served various purposes. In other words, they conferred upon the ruling families a direct link with Itzamná, the ancient Maya’s creator god, and this enabled them to access divine power, hence they carried out initiation rites inside the constructions, investing the governor-priests with power.

The INAH’s projects at this ancient site have prevented any further damage and returned the architectural splendor to the pre-Hispanic buildings that are now open to the public. However, much more work needs to be done at El Hormiguero, where the buildings still stand as a physical reminder of what our ancestors bequeathed us and future generations, in order to ensure continued respect for its cultural importance and preservation.

INAH / Zona arqueológica Hormiguero/Archivo
Structure V
Under translation

  • Bueno Cano, Ricardo, 1987, “Informe preliminar sobre el grupo este de Hormiguero”, en Cuadernos de Arquitectura Prehispánica, núm. 10, México, UNAM.
  • ___, 1991, “El sitio arqueológico de Hormiguero”, en Cuadernos de Arquitectura Prehispánica, núm. 12, México, UNAM.
  • Martos López, Luis Alberto, 1989, “Una interpretación sobre el significado y función de la Estructura II de Hormiguero, Campeche”, en Arqueología, núm. 2, México, INAH.
  • Piña Chán, Román, 1985, Cultura y ciudades mayas de Campeche, México, Editora del Sureste.
  • Ruppert, Karl y John Denison Jr., 1943, Archaeological Reconaissance in Campeche, Quintana Roo and Peten, Washington, Carnegie Institution of Washington.


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