Xochicalco, Mexico

Xochicalco - Wonders of Mexico
The Archaeological Site of Xochicalco is located in the municipalities of Temixco and Miacatlán in the Mexican State of Morelos, 38 kilometres southwest of Cuernavaca and 76miles from Mexico City. Asides of its affinities with both the Maya area and the Toluca Valley, nowadays there are still some residents of the Cuentepec Village that speak Nahuátl.

Apparently and according to the architecture of the site, it is speculated that the settlers of Xochicalco might be artists from other parts of Middle America. Specially, there are some interesting carved reliefs on the sides of the buildings, as the Temple of the Quetzalcoatl, which shows the Teotihuacán and Maya influences.

The center of the ceremonial area is on a levelled hill; it is surrounded by residential and most unexcavated structures which cover the slopes of long terraces. There is also the Central Plaza as the most important civic and religious space of Xochicalco; the Malinche or Ballgame court surrounded by twenty round altars and one square altar used as the ritual calendar of 260 days; the Main Plaza used as a ceremonial and political space with a complete restriction of passing because it houses the most important structures of the site such as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, Temple of the Steles, and the Houses of the principal kings of the Xochicalco.

There is also an Observatory, an astronomical site, a cave in where the habitants of Xochicalco were dedicated to study the Sun’s movement. Here, during 105 days, from April 30 to August 15, the sun falls into the place through the mouth of the chimney. But, from May 14 to July 29 during the movement of the sun through the Tropic of Cancer, it is at its zenith and astronomical noon creating its image on the floor of the cave; for these reasons, the scientific studies demonstrated that this place was also used for religious ceremonies. Besides, here is also attractive to see how the solar energy acts as X-Ray when a hand is located under the light, which effect allows seeing the flesh and bones of the fingers.

The archaeological site of Xochicalco is open to the tourists all week from 10am to 5pm, but the access to the Observatory is only allowed after noon. There are two ways to go to Xochicalco; one is coming from Cuernavaca through the federal road number 95 until Alpuyeca small town, once there the visitors must follow the deviation road to Macatlan, 8 kilometres to the right; and the second way is following the Sol road Cuernavaca-Acapulco until the Apuyeca Hut, from here the visitors must follow the road described in the first way.

History

According to the history, the apogee of Xochicalco was after the fall of Teotihuacán during the Epiclassic Period between 650A.D. and 900B.C. and was in this time when most of the constructions that are visible now, were built being first occupied by 200B.C. reaching a population of up to 20000 people. Apparently, most of the investigations concluded that Xochicalco has played a part in the fall of the Teotihuacán Empire, arising after the abandonment of this urban center in order to occupy the economical and political power emptiness.

Around the years 900A.D, from that moment on the city of Xochicalco was burned and destroyed for some reason, because of there are layers of burning and destruction founded in the deposits, during the excavations. Under them, there are abundant objects left in place in the houses, which indicates that their residents had to leave the place quickly. However, a small part of the population continued there on the lower slopes of the hill. Three hundred years later, in 1200A.D, Xochicalco was re-colonized by the Nahuátl-speaking Tlahuica people, who are ancestors of the modern population in the State of Morelos.
For the first time in 1777, Xochicalco was described by the explorer Antonio Alzate, and it was in 1810 when Alexander Von Humboldt published some illustrations. One hundred years later, the Temple of the Feathered Serpent or Temple of Quetzalcoatl was restored by a Mexican archaeologist called Leopoldo Batres. During the 1940s and 1960s, most of the archaeological excavations and restorations were done by Eduardo Noguera and Cesar Saenz including Xochicalco in their project.

Later, in 1976 the Pennsylvania State University sent an archaeologist called Kenneth Hirth, who started a multi-season fieldwork mapping the complete area of Xochicalco, as same as supervising the excavations of the founded houses and the obsidian workshops. Finally, in 1988, the INAH started also a large-scale program conducted by both Norberto Gónzales Crespo and Silvia Garza, building also a Site Museum in order to both accommodate and show the amazing objects founded in the projects done.