Circular Structure Connected to Kukulcán Discovered in El Tigre, Mexico
Overshadowed by more famous Maya sites like Chichen Itza and Palenque, the lesser-explored El Tigre in Campeche State has long held its secrets. But now, ongoing explorations are bearing fruit, as archaeologists have uncovered a once hidden circular structure. Dating back to a period between 1000 and 1200 AD, this recent find appears to be intertwined with the veneration of the deity Kukulcán, the Maya counterpart to the Aztec wind god Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl. This revelation shines a light on El Tigre's spiritual significance and its importance in the Maya world.
Temple at El Tigre site, Campeche, Mexico. (INAH)
Maya Empire in the Campeche Region
The Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico, through a team of specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), have just announced they have identified and excavated a circular structure in El Tigre, Campeche.
El Tigre is a Maya archaeological site traditionally known as Itzamkanac or Place of the Iguana/Crocodile House since the Spanish Conquest. Although one of the lesser-known sites compared to its more famous counterparts, ongoing archaeological research at El Tigre is revealing more structures and artifacts, contributing to our knowledge of Maya life in the Campeche region.
This region was an important part of the ancient Maya world, and archaeological sites such as Edzna, Xcalumkin and Dzibilnocac, amongst many others scattered throughout the state attest to this.
In the Campeche region, discoveries have revealed intricate city planning, monumental architecture, and detailed reliefs that tell stories of rulers, gods, and everyday life. The glyphs and inscriptions found in the region have provided valuable insights into the political, economic, and religious aspects of the ancient Maya.
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The Maya Site of El Tigre
What is known as the El Tigre site, due to its nearest town, was once an important Maya port town or city, with around 10,000 inhabitants in the area. It connected the region with other important areas of Mesoamerica, such as central Mexico, Oaxaca, and the Gulf Coast, where the Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl cult could have come from, states the INAH report. The site is situated on a hill overlooking the Candelaria River, and includes two main plazas, with four large structures, a ball court, 13 altars and 3 stela, which all exhibit characteristics of the Postclassic Maya styles, explains The Maya Ruins Website.
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El Tigre. (Luis Gerardo Peña Torres/INAH)
Many lithic artifacts including knives and spherical weights have been unearthed at the site, including flint and obsidian wares, indicating trade links with other regions, and with the Kingdom of Tikal as far back as the Late Pre-Classic Maya era (300 BC – 250 AD).
Regarding the excavation of the circular structure in El Tigre, it is described as a two-story building which would have been crowned by a flat-roofed temple, similar to another building at the site and several others in the region.
The site was mentioned in the Paxbolón Maldonado Papers of the Chontal chief Don Pablo Paxbolón (1575-1576), which reported that the site had structures dedicated to four main deities of the Post-Classic Maya era, with one of them being Kukulcán, the Maya invocation of the Aztec Quetzalcóatl.
Due to this, the archaeologist Vargas Pacheco has proposed that El Tigre matches the Itzamkanac of the historical sources, since these agree with the location cited and the archaeological data on its identification.
Solidarity in Mexico
At the conference to announce the new finds, in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Otis to the Acapulco region in the west, before detailing a description of the discovery, the President of the Republic of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and the general director of the INAH, Diego Prieto Hernández, took the opportunity to express that all agencies of the federal culture sector are dedicated to strengthening solidarity with the brothers and sisters of the coasts of Guerrero, and so the institute will temporarily set up an operations center in the Historical Museum of Acapulco to promote aid to the population affected by the passage of Hurricane Otis.
Top image: The circular structure discovered at El Tigre, Campeche, Mexico. Source: INAH
By Gary Manners