The archaeological site of Tammapul in the southwest of Tamaulipas, where the fog spreads its mantle


In the southwestern part of Tamaulipas is located the archaeological site of Tammapul, a place of fog in the Huasteca language, surrounded by a valley of fertile land and flanked by the sulfus lacus or salt lake, today Laguna San Isidro, an aquifer that allowed its inhabitants to survive thanks to its natural wealth. The site confirms the diverse cultural manifestations located in different regions of the entity, each one of them with very defined characteristics but that share the territory of Tamaulipas.

Originally it was thought that it belonged to the Huasteca culture, but when the site was explored it became clear that its configuration is different from the rest of the cultures that exist in Tamaulipas. The architectural manifestations of the site have particular features that are difficult to find in the vestiges of other cultures. In the main building, also called Cuisillo, a fine finish is appreciated in the main wall, with a series of stone nails used as ornaments; its measures are 36 meters of base and 12 of height.

In the central part of the base there is a cylindrical structure that goes from the base to the highest part, where it protrudes from the rest of the construction; this cylinder, it is believed, is the one that supports the building so it can be said that it was built from the interior to the periphery. It is worth mentioning that this characteristic is particular to the site and is only related to some constructions of Río Verde, in San Luis Potosí.

Other outstanding features of the site are the long avenues that connect the buildings, of which only one has been intervened so far. These avenues, according to the specialists, are similar to those located in the Archaeological Zone of Teotihuacan. There is evidence that the pyramid was looted in the XVIII and XIX centuries in its upper part, from where large quantities of rock were removed to build houses of the time in the surrounding municipalities.

Two great alfardas can be appreciated that correspond, originally, to massive trapezoidal blocks, similar to those that distinguish the pyramid of Tenayuca, in the municipality of San Bartolo, State of Mexico.

The first reports of the site date back to 1830 when researchers from the University of Texas carried out an expedition in Tamaulipas territory and reported on the site; later, in 1842, a group of historians carried out a historical survey of the state commissioned by the then governor, and made a description of the base that coincides with the one made 12 years before. These are the ones who carried out the first excavations at the site.

By 1940, new field seasons were carried out at the site, and the first interpretations about the culture to which it belonged were achieved. The indications pointed to being part of the Huasteca culture since, it was believed, all the circular pyramids of the region belonged to this tradition, hypothesis that with time was discarded.

The building shows evidence of an incomplete construction process, that is to say, only fillings were found at certain levels, therefore it is believed that during the remodeling, it was abandoned for unknown reasons. The architecture has not been related to any other site, making it a unique case of its kind.

In the work carried out by INAH researchers, ceramics in the Río Verde style were also found, dating from 250 to 1000 A.D. However, it can be said that the period of splendor of the site dates back to the Epiclassic (500-900 A.D.) due to the large amount of materials found corresponding to that period.

Although in smaller percentage, ceramics from the Huasteca and Laguna de la Media Luna, in San Luis Potosi, where there are a series of settlements that share the style, were also found; cajetes, plates and incense burners could be identified.

It is considered that the site was a temple dedicated to a deity not yet defined, question, among others, that is being studied, in addition to the other buildings, and a hypothesis that points to housing complexes that surrounded the pyramids with an extension of at least one kilometer.

In the state of Tamaulipas five different cultural expressions have been identified such as the huasteca; the highlands; the Northern Plains occupied by hunter-gatherers up to the border with Texas; the Laguna Madre characterized by the use of shell in the manufacture of their utensils and Tammapul, which occupies the area called Valle de Tula or 4º. District.

Importance of the Tammapul Archaeological Zone

Tammapul is located in a fertile valley between the tropical and semi-desert regions. The San Isidro Lagoon, located to the northeast of the mound, must have been the axis of its economic activity. The mountain ranges of the Sierra Madre Oriental that enclose the valley, over which the fog hangs at dawn, provide a landscape of extraordinary beauty that confirms the mysterious meaning of its Huastec name: Tammapul, "Place of fog".

The analysis of 35 500 sherds, by archaeologist Diana Paulina Radillo Rolón in 2007, indicates that it was the culture of Río Verde with which Tammapul was most closely related. As for the settlement pattern, it is clear that there is a huge difference between this settlement and Río Verde, since the former consists of only three buildings scattered and quite far from each other; however, the architecture is quite similar.

It is thought that Tammapul is the work of the Huasteca culture, however, the ceramic materials are more related to the Río Verde culture, in the neighboring state of San Luis Potosí. If the archaeologists' assumptions are true, the site would be located around 600 and 900 A.D. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the site is located in a zone of cultural and environmental confluences, right in the transition zone between the fertile tropical region and the arid zone; between the ecological and cultural limits of Mesoamerica and Aridoamerica.

Site Description

In the valley where Tammapul is located, there are archaeological settlements located to the east of the city of Tula, Tamaulipas, on the shores of the lagoon, in an area of approximately two kilometers, among which the most visible remains are the areas of Potrero de la Palma and Cuecillo. The cúe or main mound of the nucleus was of great size, it had a base of 41 m of diameter and 12 meters of height; probably it had some stone covering, but this has disappeared.

The constructive pattern is of two superimposed stages, whose center or axis is a circular nucleus of approximately 8 meters in diameter built with stone without covering and mud.

By Mexicanist, Source INAH