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New Hypothesis Regarding El Tajin Urban Draft Announced
The trace of the urban design of El Tajin, pertaining to the elevation located East of the site. Photo: INAH.
MEXICO CITY.- Specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have raised a new hypothesis regarding the cause that determined urban design of El Tajin, in Veracruz, which would explain how the trace corresponds to an elevation located to the east of the Prehispanic site, reproducing the symbolic concept of “hill of sustenance” (cerro de los mantenimientos).

This new interpretation comes from a series of landscape archaeology studies, where natural environment of El Tajin begins to be taken as reference of the ancient Totonaca settlement.

As Patricia Castillo Peña, academic director at El Tajin Archaeological Zone mentioned, “until now, the relevance of this city was established by its architecture or size, but our proposal is that its projection as a city towards 600 AD was determined by symbolic aspects of the Mesoamerican tradition”.

Buildings at El Tajin had not only ceremonial or administrative character. The Southern Ball Game Court, the Columns Structure, the Building of Niches, and the Great Xicalcoliuhqui emulated concepts related to the vital cycle.

At her participation in the 75th Anniversary Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Patricia Castillo commented that this perspective is based on lines of study such as landscape and identity archaeologies, and attached to theories broadly divulgated by experts like anthropologist Alfredo Lopez Austin; according to him, settlements would be replicas of sacred hills.

Archaeologist Patricia Castillo detailed that exploration of the zone has confirmed that atop the hill and at the middle, a series of altars were built. This mount would play the role of “hill of sustenance”.

According to the myth, the hill of maintenance has two protuberances; some elevations have them, while others were constructed, as in the hill near El Tajin.

“The hill has a fundamental axis related to the 4 emblematic structures of the site, mentioned before; they were built in the Epi Classic period, between 800 and 1200 AD, when 13 Rabbit became ruler”.

Castillo Peña mentioned that to present, archaeoastronomical measurements are being determined by INAH specialist Dr. Stanislaw Iwaniszewski to establish if there is some phenomenon of this nature during summer solstice.

According to studies conducted by Dr. Jurgen Blugerman and archaeologist Jose Garcia Payon, El Tajin was a multi-ethnic site in ancient Mexico. When 13 Rabbit became representative of Quetzalcoatl in the earth, he changed substantially the aspect of the city, building structures characterized by the profusion of niches, frets and cornices.

El Tajin had 3 development stages: the first one began at 600 AC, when the plaza known as El Arroyo was founded with monumental buildings that mark 4 cardinal directions. Later, structures were constructed constantly, among them 8 game courts.

Mexico | National Institute of Anthropology and History | Patricia Castillo | "El Tajin" |

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