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Cacaxtla

A time capsule

At the center of Mexico, many years before the Spanish arrived, there were once two native cultures who dominated their world: Teotihuacan and Cholula. They dominated war, politics and religion, but one day they disappeared.

A group of descendants of those cultures walked in search of a place where to establish a new home. They were the Olmec-Xicallanca. At last they came to a place called Tlaxcala; There they found a hill that overlooked a long and beautiful landscape. There was a hill called Malinche and some volcanoes called Ixtacíhuatl and Popocatépetl.

It was a good place to protect themselves from other towns, so they decided to stay and found a new city with the name Cacaxtla, which means "place where the rain dies on earth".

It is not know exactly when they started, but the city reached its peak between 650 and 900 e. c. Like most of the peoples of Mesoamerica, they first built one city and then another over it and then another and another ... until they did it nine times and the basement on which the city was settled reached 200 meters long by 110 meters wide .

On this basement were the main buildings: temples, palaces, public buildings and the houses of the most powerful people. The story tells that Cacaxtla was a place where there was wealth and an influential elite, because the place they chose turned out to be a strategic point to trade with the peoples of the south, the gulf and the center of Mexico.

Despite their power one day they lost a battle in Cholula, against a people that came from Tula, the Toltecs ... and ceased to exist.

Later in 1975, a farmer was working the land and found a very rare painted stone. He dug a little and saw that more stones were painted below. He warned the relevant authorities who eventually began excavation work that revealed something wonderful.

A huge city that told the story of an extraordinary people, a town that dominated these lands for 300 years. It had influenced the cities around him, as well as dominated and conquered his enemies. One by one they were taking out the buried secrets; vessels, tools, weapons, offerings, palaces, temples. Everything was reborn.

Eventually they also revealed some beautiful and incredibly well preserved murals, among the motives there was a man with his whole body painted black, dressed in feathers and standing on a feathered serpent. A man with jaguar skins holding a bundle of spears from which eight drops of water drain on a snake with another jaguar skin that crawls or swims in a kind of stream. A woman with the body painted blue as the god of rain, Tlaloc, standing next to a man with a scorpion tail.

An atrocious battle in which an army dressed in jaguar costumes swith with its weapons with fierceness over a Huastec army, dismembered, bleeding on its feathered trappings. A merchant with a jaguar helmet and claws like nails, carrying behind him a bundle of feathers, a turtle shell and a lizard head. All in real size and in bright colors ... blue, yellow, white, red and black.

The motifs of the murals come from the Mayan culture, which indicates that there were numerous cultural influences in the town of Cacaxtla. In addition, at the end of unearthing, the urban layout was revealed as highly organized, with hierarchical, political and religious features.

At the center of one of the squares, known as the Patio de los Altares, two cistas (boxes) were found with offerings and human remains, especially children, which suppose sacrifices to the gods. A temple to Venus; a small room that was called the Periquera, it is thought that it was dedicated to the breeding of birds; porticos, many porticos, and a unique element in Mesoamerican architecture: the latticework, a kind of stone and stucco fabric like a screen, which served to divide the rooms.

As the discoveries in the area advanced, the archaeologists found that the materials on the walls were very fragile and the rain could easily dilute them, and the sun, above all, would quickly discolor the exposed murals, so they decided to cover it.

Now all these wonderful stories and places are available for public visits, allowing us sensory delights of all kinds.

Galería - Cacaxtla

Tour through Cacaxtla with this photographs

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Cacaxtla

Learn more about life in Cacaxtla with our audio guide

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