Cihuatán Archaeological Site

The Cihuatán archaeological site in the Acelhuate River Central Valley sits on a crest some 30 meters high as a strategic vantage point over the valley.

Around AD 900, the hilltop was modified by the inhabitants of Cihuatán to serve as the town center. The walled contours of the ceremonial center surround a central plaza. Constructions in the center include an enormous royal palace for the old city, with two smaller mansions. The design concepts for the royal palace hail from the “tecpan” from central Mexico. The colossal center in Cihuatán was surrounded by an expansive area of common residences, perhaps up to 5,000 homes.

Cihuatán can be divided into three important areas: its ceremonial center, the acropolis plaza, and the residential area. Two ball-game courts were erected, one at the western edge and one to the north. The inhabitants of Cihuatán venerated different deities from the Mexica pantheon, such as Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, and Xipe Totec. Cihuatán was vacated from AD 1050 to AD 1100, likely as a product of war and conflict. 21st-century archaeological studies suggest that the city was razed.

Cihuatán and the Las Marías site are the largest archaeological sites identified in the country so far. Trails run through the Cihuatán park to the excavated area, with 28 researched structures, a site interpretation center for visitors, a gift shop, and a cafeteria.

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