Tonina Pyramid, Largest Pyramid in Mexico

Researchers confirm that recently discovered Tonina Pyramid is Largest Pyramid in Mexico


It was just over five years ago that researchers in Mexico discovered an enormous pyramid of the Maya civilization in Toniná,  Chiapas. The fact that the pyramid had remained concealed under what was believed to be a natural hill for around 1,700 years is truly incredible, particularly considering that it has been confirmed as the largest pyramid in Mexico and is even taller than Teotihuacan’s enormous Pyramid of the Sun.

The pyramid, which measures 75 meters (246 feet) in height, was first excavated by archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in 2010.

La Jornada reports that it was found during explorations of the acropolis of Toniná in what is now the Mexican state of Chiapas. The archaeological site of Toniná sits on a platform covering 6 hectares and consists of seven terraces on the north side of the platform which rise above a plaza. Social, political, economic, and religious structures were constructed on the terraces, including housing, administrative units, and groups of temple-pyramids. There is also a ballgame court at the site, and over 100 carved monuments dating from the 6 th to the 9 th centuries AD.

Toniná has been described as an aggressive state that used warfare to develop a powerful kingdom that rivalled Palenque. Toniná eventually became the dominant city in the west of the Maya region.

The Acropolis of Toniná, occupying seven terraces upon a hillside.

The Acropolis of Toniná, occupying seven terraces upon a hillside. ( Wikimedia Commons )

Emiliano Gallaga, director of the archaeological zone, told La Jornada that the pyramid was covered in vegetation and was initially believed to be a natural hill. However, exploration of the site soon revealed that the structure was almost entirely man-made, constructed by the ancient Maya inhabitants of Toniná.

Three-dimensional scanning of the pyramid revealed that it was “one of the largest constructions in Mesoamerica, comparable in size only to great Mayan cities like Tikal and El Mirador in Guatemala,” said Gallaga. “Toniná is bigger than we suspected. The pyramids are connected by roads located on top of the surrounding elevations.”

The scale of the pyramid at Tonina is comparable in size only to the great Maya cities of Guatemala, such as Tikal. Pictured here, the central acropolis at Tikal.

The scale of the pyramid at Tonina is comparable in size only to the great Maya cities of Guatemala, such as Tikal. Pictured here, the central acropolis at Tikal. Image Source: Simon Danhauer / Fotolia

Gallaga added that, after evaluating all the information gathered from exploratory studies, it can be confirmed that the pyramid exceeds the height of the Pyramid of the Sun at  Teotihuacan, which previously held the position as the tallest pyramid in Mexico at 65 meters (213 feet) in height.

Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan

Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan ( Wikimedia Commons )

Featured image: Overview of the northern part of the acropolis of Tonina, Chiapas Photo DMC INAH / H. Montaño

By April Holloway


If only those earlier white people could have been as virtuous as you all those indigenous people could have been spared so much suffering and exploitation. Please continue to point out the unique depravity of white people through the ages.

Bravo ! Very well written ! The white people ( of whom I am one ) were greedy and self-centered ! It makes me sick to think of what "we" did, at the expense of so many others !

You must positively loathe Muslims then.

amusing name. bastard slang Spanish for short, direct from english for chopped. But in Ladino, Bayuk, Yama & Mobilian trade pidgin for hat.

That’s a solid point, Osiris. Andrew appears to forget that the intent of the Spanish — and intent is everything — was to go to the so-called New World and loot and conquer it in the name of the Spanish crown. Cortez and Co. were known to be nothing more than hired thugs and behaved accordingly, as facts prove. Cnetral Mexico was not a total nirvana in those days, and they had their own social ills, but certainly the Spanish imported deadly deseases from Europe, not the other way around.

The Aztec, on the other hand, had by then lost the plot themselves. They no longer understood the meaning of the ancient sacred teachings that had maintained American cultures in balance for thousands of years, and took to a blood lust in the mistaken idea it would appease unseen gods. In the end the Spaniards’ gold lust won.

Freddy Silva

Best-selling author, researcher.



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