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Xochicalco Archaeological Site




Location: 40 km (25 mi) Southwest of Cuernavaca, Morelos    Map

Open: daily




Description of Xochicalco Archaeological Site

Xochicalco is a ancient archeological site situated 40 km (25 mi) Southwest of Cuernavaca in the Mexican state of Morelos. In Náhuatl dialect Xochicalco means "the place of the house of flowers". Although historians believe that this is actually a name of one of the buildings on a site. The real name of Xochicalco Archaeological Site is believed to be a hieroglyph that is repeated all over the city. It is that of Totolhuacalco or "place of trapped birds". It is one of the most important and best preserved sites that were made a Unesco World Heritage Site. The excavated portion of the site measure 10 square kilometres although archaeological digs still continue. Different strata represent different cultures that took possession of Xochicalco. This includes the Toltec, Olmec, Zapotex, Mixtec and finally Aztec civilizations.
Xochicalco was found in the second century BC and reached its peak between 600 and 900 AD. Eventually Xochicalcoa was captured and burned down. After its initial destruction the site was resettled by a small group of people. It never reached the same magnitude in size and population size.
One of the best preserved buildings in Xochicalco Archaeological Site is Pirámide de Quetzalcóatl (Feathered Serpent), a pyramid in the central of the archaeological park. Its sides are covered by carved relief of a Feathered Serpent, ancient god. Another interesting structure here is the Observatory. A dark corridor will take you inside this structure. Only few holes in the roof lined with important astronomical marks is the only source of light in this room. Additionally a network of drainage system, cisterns, temples, residential buildings and fortifications are spread all over area. The buildings clear show that the society of Xochicalco had a clear social division between the rich and the poor.




Of special interest are sculptured reliefs on the sides of some buildings. The Temple of the Feathered Serpent has fine stylized depictions of that deity in a style which includes apparent influences of Teotihuacan and Maya art. The high taluds of the pyramid bear relief carvings that depict towns that paid tribute to Xochicalco as well as several seated figures that look Mayan. It has been speculated that Xochicalco may have had a community of artists from other parts of Mesoamerica.

Other monuments at the site include several other step-pyramid temples, palaces, three ballcourts, sweat-baths, an unusual row of circular altars, and a cave with steps carved down into it. The site also has some free-standing sculptured stelae; others were removed from their original location and are now on display in the INAH museum in Mexico City and at the site museum.



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