Monday, August 27, 2012

Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl Archaeology Extravaganza!

Well this one was an exciting one for me. Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl reached the apex of their power in the 5th century CE, controlling important trade routes through central Mexico and likely outwards to the coast with an enclave population of no more than 10,000 people. But it is the semingly out of place Mayan influence on the site which makes it so very interesting. You see Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl are located in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala which places them a good 800km away from any Mayan power centre and much closer to pre-hispanic cities such as Cholula, Tula or Tenochtitlan. While the origin of these "Cacaxtlecas" is not know with any certainty it is suspected that they were in fact Mayan migrants from the south as their artistic styling  would seem to suggest. If these people truly were of Maya origin they did a pretty good job of holding on to their cultural identity surrounded by the heavy influence of many other peoples since their art in general and their naturalism in particular is agreed to just ooze mayaness.  But something about this telling just does not sit well with me, I have always liked the idea of some emerging central Mexican power bringing architects, stone masons and painters from some usumacintan Mayan city state and ordering the construction of this grand complex, but alas that is pure fanciful speculation. While both centres where heavily looted, the massive archaeological effort currently underway is doing a fantastic job of rescuing these fantastic sites. Also, the state of Tlaxcala is absolutely gorgeous... I had never been before and I am really happy I talked everyone in to making the trip out! Also, check out those crazy volcanoes! ( Popocatépetl, Matlalcuéyetl and Iztaccíhuatl. Hope you enjoy the photos!

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