Pyramid of the Flowers at the archaeological site of Xochitécatl
Mexico Travel

Xochitécatl – Archaeological Excursion

Xochitécatl, Zona Arqueológica

[Click on images to enlarge]

My professor promised to arrange some excursions for us on our weekends, and this past Saturday we visited two nearby archaeological sites (sorry I know in my last post I said we were going to downtown Puebla, but plans changed). This post will focus on only one of the sites. I will put up another post about the other site later this week.

We headed to la Zona Arqueológica de Xochitécatl first, around 1:30PM. The weather was pretty overcast and occasionally rained lightly. This turned out to be a good thing, since it drastically reduced the number of tourists around, making it easier to get good photos.

Xochitécatl means “place of the lineage of the flowers”. The first thing we visited at the site was the museum. It had a lot of the figures discovered during excavation. Most of them are women figures, with a lot of them pregnant or giving birth. As you can probably guess, most of them are thought to represent fertility or to bring fertility to someone. Most of the figures are flat and wide.

The second thing we visited was “La Espiral” – the spiral. It has a circular base and then has stones making the shape of a spiral around the hill. There is a cross at the top, but that is recent. This was not a place of Catholic worship. There are man-made rebar stairs to allow people to climb to the top while refraining from damaging the spiral.

View from the top of the spiral at Xochitécatl
View from the top of the spiral
View from the spiral and the platform of the volcanoes from afar at Xochitécatl
The spiral and the Platform of the Volcanoes from afar
We then passed by the “Basamento de los volcanes” – the Platform of the Volcanoes. It was just a large rectangular base with a few stairs. It was built during the Preclassic Period, with Teotihuacan influence. Archaeologists believe that this was a base to another building. This edifice is different from the others (that have been and will be described) because it faces a different direction. They also believe that its placement in the center of the plaza makes it evident that it has a ritual/religious importance.
This brought us to the Pirámide de las Flores (Pyramid of the Flowers). This building is the largest of those in this religious center. At the base are two pools for collecting rain water. 30 infants were found buried near this building, as were fertility icons.
The final building at this site was the Edificio de la Serpiente – Building of the Serpent. It is built from stones from a riverbed and has four levels. All entrances are on the north side. This building is named for the large serpent shaped stone found here (stones in the shape of a jaguar and a man with a scepter were also found here). Archaeologists think that this building may have been for water rituals/rites.

I also find it important to mention that Mexican archaeologists seem to really love to see images in objects (e.g. Virgin Mary in toast). They claim that during certain times of the day, the light hits the wells at the bottom of the Pyramid of the Flowers to create images in the shadows, such as an eagle and a woman. This seems to be a common phenomenon, appearing in Mexican archaeology papers and during tours around the sites. I tried really hard to see any of these images, but couldn’t.

The next post will be about the palace I visited, so stay tuned for that!

-Brianna (16 days until Peru!)

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