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Location DB > Mexico > Tlaxcala > Tlaxcala > Xochitecatl
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 Database Info
created by lopix on 7/18/2005 1:05 AM
last modified by lopix on 7/30/2005 4:16 PM
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Situated on a high Mexican plain, around 7,500 ft. above sea level, Xochitécatl is a small ceremonial center located on top of an extinct volcano overlooking Cacaxtla, about 1km ( 1/2 mile) to the east and in plain sight of Cacaxtla. It was probably inhabited, at least in the Classical period, by the same people living in Cacaxtla.

A curious circular pyramid stands atop this hill, 600 ft. above the surrounding countryside. Beside it are two other pyramids and three massive boulders (one about 3m/10 ft. in diameter), which were hollowed out for some reason. Hollowed boulders appear to have been restricted to the Puebla-Tlaxcala valley.

Excavation of the Edificio de la Espiral (circular pyramid), dated between 1000 and 800 B.C. (middle formative period), encountered no stairways. Access is thought to have been by its spiral walkway. Rounded boulders from the nearby Zahuapan and Atoyac rivers were used in its construction. Rounded pyramids in this part of Mexico are thought to have been dedicated to Ehécatl, god of the wind. The base diameter exceeds 180 ft. and it rises to a height of 50 ft.

The stepped and terraced Pyramid of the Flowers, made of rounded boulders, was started during the middle formative period. Modifications continued into colonial times, as exemplified by faced-stone and stucco-covered adobe. Of the 30 bodies found during excavations, all but one were children.

Little is known about the people who built Xochitécatl, but at least part of the time they were contemporaneous with neighboring Cacaxtla. Evidence suggests that the area was dedicated to Xochitl, goddess of flowers and fertility.
 Basic Information
Type: Ruins
Status: Active
Accessibility: Easy
Recommendation: check it out if you're nearby
 Physical Information

Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala
Owner: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia
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  •  Hazards
     Interesting Features
    spiral pyramid
    hollowed boulders
    big pyramid
    amazing view
     Security Measures
     Historical Dates
    Built: 0
    Closed: 0
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    The name of this site comes from the náhuatl words xochitl, flower, and tecatl, place, and therefore it has been translated as "Place of flowers" or "Place of the lineage of flowers".

    Its historical background has been perfectly recorded since the XVI century by Tlaxcaltecan chronicler Diego Muñoz Camargo. In his History of Tlaxcala he wrote: …and they founded where now is the town of Santa María de la Natividad… and the Xochitécatl hill. Another XVI century chronicler, Juan Buenaventura Zapata, reports: …and when they came to the place they call Texcallan, they saw that over there in Xochitecatitlán …lived those they called Olmeca Xicalancas. In the 1632 Codex Xochitécatl, which is a document of land ownership of the community of San Miguel Xochitecatitla, it is possible to see the Xochitécatl hill and on its top two mounds, one of which is crowned by a cross, just as the Building of the Spiral looks nowadays. Represented by a mountain of flowers on the summit, the glyph for Xochitécatl appears in the Map of Cuauhtinchan number two.

    The 1874 painting The valley of Ocotlán, by José María Velasco, depicts Xochitécatl hill with a mound on its summit and the volcanoes in the background. In 1883 Howe Bancroft published his article Xochitécatl is part of a series of fortifications that cover a hill. Mr. Alfonso Luis Velasco published in 1892 his book Geography and Statistics of the State of Tlaxcala. In the section entitled "Antiquities" he wrote: The most outstanding in the State of Tlaxcala, and which were miraculously saved from the conquistador’s fanaticism, are the following: … and in Xochitecatitla on the Xochitecatl hill some stones used for human sacrifice …The ruins of Xochitecatl must be mentioned as outstanding… All these ruins belong to the first settlements founded by the ulmecas and the xicalancas in the early XIII century, in the place where now is the town of Nativitas, and are worth studying.

    In 1939 the Panamerican Institute of Geography and History edited the Archaeological Atlas of the Mexican Republic. In the section devoted to the state of Tlaxcala, 16 sites were recorded, including Xochitécatl, which is called Xochitecatitla. In the early 1940’s Dr. Pedro Armillas drew the first topographic plan of the archaeological site of Cacaxtla, and included Xochitécatl, as well as a description of the site. In 1969 German archaeologist Bodo Spranz made some sampling cuts or sondages in the Pyramid of the Flowers and the Platform of Volcanoes. In the latter he found several offerings of female figurines, from which stands out a skinless one that has been identified as the goddess Tlazoltéotl, as well as a skull showing dental mutilation and inlays of green stone and pyrites.

    An important discovery took place in 1978, when two anthropomorphic sculptures were found in Xochitécatl hill. The largest one represents a female figure with dropping breasts and with her hands over the abdomen, and is probably represented as pregnant. The second one belongs to a male figure, and they are both now in the town of San José Atoyatenco. Excavations as part of the Archaeological-Ecological Project began in 1993, during which more than 90 thousand trees of different species were planted, all four buildings were excavated and a site museum was created. Fieldwork was coordinated by archaeologists Ludwig Beutelspacher and Mari-Carmen Serra.
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    Should stay as it is.

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    Infrared Ruins
    Sat, Nov 13th, 2004
    posted by lopix
    17 pictures

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    The moderator rating is a neutral rating of the content quality, photography, and coolness of this location.

    Category Rating
    Photography 10 / 10
    Coolness 7 / 10
    Content Quality 8 / 10
    This location's validation is current. It was last validated by ednothing on 8/5/2005 2:40 PM.

     Latest Changes
  • on Jul 30 05 at 16:16, lopix changed the main information
  • on Jul 30 05 at 16:15, lopix changed the main information
  • on Jul 18 05 at 1:40, lopix changed the main information
  • on Jul 18 05 at 1:39, lopix made this location available
  • on Jul 18 05 at 1:39, lopix updated a gallery picture
  • on Jul 18 05 at 1:37, lopix changed the main information
  • on Jul 18 05 at 1:34, lopix updated a gallery picture
  • on Jul 18 05 at 1:34, lopix updated a gallery picture
  • on Jul 18 05 at 1:33, lopix updated a gallery picture
  • on Jul 18 05 at 1:33, lopix updated a gallery picture
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