Archaeological sites in Chiapas that you should visit

16/01/2021
Bonampak, Chiapas. Image: INAH
Bonampak, Chiapas. Image: INAH

The archeological zones of Chiapas receive every year thousands of visitors who want to explore the ruined palaces, pyramids, temples, ball games, astronomical observatories, and ceremonial centers that are testimony to the greatness of the Mayan civilization.

Yaxchilan Archaeological Zone

Yaxchilan is one of the most notable sites of the Classic period in the Mayan region (250-900 AD). From a small village of farmers and hunters, it became a prominent place in its region. It is thought that it was important since the government of Cráneo-Mahk'ina I, Lord of Yaxchilán, around 410 A.D. At that time Tikal still dominated the region and Yaxchilán was a river port.

Archaeological Zone of Tenam Puente

Tenam Puente represents one of the most important political entities in the Eastern Highlands and is of great importance in the ritual landscape of the region. The Acropolis was conceived as a sacred space with well-defined interior circulation areas. As it is currently known, it was the result of continuous constructive development by modifying and leveling the hill with long and high terraces raised on different levels. Three ball games denote the importance it had in the regional sphere; until now it is the only settlement with a considerable number of ball game courts in the Comitan valley and surrounding areas.

El Lagartero Archaeological Zone

The pre-Hispanic inhabitants of Lagartero occupied the set of islands and riparian areas of the wetland known as La Cienega de Lagartero. Due to the abundance of water and the characteristic vegetation of the low jungle allowed activities such as the collection of fish and mollusks, hunting of species such as deer and rabbits, but the main activity was the cultivation of corn and cotton.

Archaeological Zone Iglesia Vieja

In the last century it was known simply as " Ruin of Tonalá", but the inhabitants of the region of Tonalá considered that the great platform of the main building (B-1) was a base of an old church, thus it began to be called traditionally "Old Church" ("Iglesia Vieja"). The archaeological zone Iglesia Vieja is located 4 km north of the city of Tonala, it is situated on the plateau, with more than 700 m of altitude of the Sierra Madre of Chiapas.

Chiapa de Corzo Archaeological Zone

The occupation of Chiapa de Corzo during the pre-Hispanic era began in the Early Preclassic period (1400-850 B.C.) as a small agricultural village that had a close affiliation - according to ceramic remains - with the coast of Chiapas and Guatemala. Common in this period are ceramic types such as the large spherical tecomates with narrow mouths and incised decorations, as well as flat-bottomed pots with straight and divergent walls.

Archaeological Zone of Tonina

Due to its constructive characteristics, Toniná is a splendid example of the pyramidal urbanism of ancient Mexico, of the complex architectural territory that was designed as a scenario of order and harmony of the cyclic movement of lights and winds, of waters and fires. It is found in an artificial space, deified by itself; this is concluded by its streets and stairways, platforms and temples where the lights of the cosmos circulate and go on pilgrimage, they are routes where the processions of time and human beings wander; space where the paths, avenues, and alleys are ordered, go up and down in cascades of stairs following the routes, in the sky, of the morning star and the afternoon star, the Moon and the Sun.

Archaeological Zone of Palenque

On the last foothills of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, on the border with the coastal plain of the Gulf of Mexico, in the midst of a landscape of high jungle and with a great abundance of surface water, Palenque is founded as a small village dedicated to agriculture, possibly around 100 BC within the period called Formative (2500 BC - 300 AD). During the Early Classic (300-600 A.D.) the city evolved to become, by the Late Classic (600-900 A.D.), the guiding center of a vast region of what is now Chiapas and Tabasco. Palenque reaches its maximum development at this time, expressed in the complexity of its architecture, its ceramics, and, especially, in the inscriptions.

Archaeological Zone of Izapa

Ceremonial, the political and religious center of the Soconusco for almost a thousand years. Among the vestiges of its plazas, it is possible to admire steles and altars with notable reliefs that, in the opinion of some specialists, represent the evolution of Olmec art to the Maya.

Chincultik Archaeological Zone

This site is characterized by a settlement whose architecture was adapted in a very special way to the topographical characteristics of the terrain. The site is divided into four architectural complexes: the A is the highest and from here the entire site is dominated by what is also known as El Mirador; the Acropolis dominates this complex. In Set B the great Plaza Hundida stands out mainly. In the Set C is located the Ball Game and the Great Platform and in the Set D stand out a great pyramidal base and the Platform of the Slabs, called this way because this structure is formed by great blocks of cut stone that get to measure 2.6 by .40 meters and they are the biggest constructive blocks known in Mesoamerica.

Archaeological Zone of Bonampak

The earliest archaeological materials recovered in Bonampak date back to the beginning of the Classic period (250 A.D.), when the site became important. The Mayan society of the Classic period had agriculture as its economic base of subsistence, complemented with the abundant resources of the forest. It was organized into various social strata or classes; its inhabitants belonged to them, basically, by birth, marriage, or by learning a specialized trade.

Source: INAH