Olmec Trading Center?

Chalcatzingo Travel Blog

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The meso-american archaeological site of Chalcatzingo is located in the Valley of Morelos in the State of Morelos on the west side of Highway 160 south of Cuautla. Currently Chalcatzingo is the only meso-american site in the Central highlands containing monumental sculpture. Chalcatzingo began to take shape as a trading center of the Olmec Culture during the Formative Period 1500 BC - 900 BC. This site is best known for the numerous (about 30) examples of Olmec-style monumental sculpture. This inventory of sculpture included both free-standing monuments and carvings on live rock faces. The people of Chalcatzingo began to produce this monumental sculptures around 900 BC.

Looking south at the largest structure on this site with Cerro delgado in the left background.
  Calcatzingo was at its zenith between 700 BC - 500 BC, with an estimated population of 1000. Archaeologist think that Chalcatzingo began to decline in population 500 BC. It is speculated that this decline is due to some change in the trading partners or the strength of the Olmec homeland along the Gulf coast.

The ceremonial center of Chalcatzingo covers approximately 100 acres. It is speculated that this location was chosen for Chalcatzingo based on a combination of a number a factors that include warmer climate, large area of level fertile soil, a significant historic water supply, the possible spiritual significance  of the two rugged volcanic hills (Cerro Chalcatzingo and Cerro Delgado)and the general central geographic location with the Gulf and Pacific coasts and the valleys of Mexico and Oaxaca.

Looking southeast from the northwest corner of the ball court with Cerro Delgado in the bachground.
  Cerro Chalcatzingo has historically been a ceremonial center based on the significant numbers of monumental sculpture near it, on it and carved into it. Water appears to be the main subject of the ceremonial asspect of Cerro Calcatzingo. Currently their is vegetative evidence of a number of springs emanating from the base of cerro Chalcatzingo.

The contains a central plaza that is immediately downhill from a group of structures that appear to be elite residences. There is a large  sunken patio similar in style to "El Recinto" a sunken patio built between 1000 - 800 BC located at the site of  Teopantecuanitlan. Teopantecuanitlan is located in the state of Guerrero at the convergence of the Amacuzac and Balsa Rivers approximately 5 miles north of where the Amacuzac empties into the Mezcala River.

Base of carved stelea. Note the grid of string. This area is prepared for additional excavation.
  There is a table-style alter in the center of Chalcatzingo's patio, very similar to examples present at San Lorenzo and La Venta, both located in the Gulf coast lowlands of the Olmec heartland.

The largest structure at Chalcatzingo in a nearly square platform measuring 230 feet per side. A number of high-status burials have been discovered contained in this public structure. The graves contained rich burials goods, including well executed jade ornaments and a magnetite mirror. These burials are very significant, in that the majority of all the burials discovered to date have been beneath the floors of residences regardless of social status of the individuals.

Vikram says:
Another great informational blog!
Posted on: Jan 10, 2009
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Looking south at the largest struc…
Looking south at the largest stru…
Looking southeast from the northwe…
Looking southeast from the northw…
Base of carved stelea. Note the gr…
Base of carved stelea. Note the g…
Large area of excavation just west…
Large area of excavation just wes…
From the northeast corner of the b…
From the northeast corner of the …
Looking northeast along the long a…
Looking northeast along the long …
Looking northeast along the long a…
Looking northeast along the long …
Prepared platform to receive sculp…
Prepared platform to receive scul…
Water feature, rocked lined channe…
Water feature, rocked lined chann…
Water feature. Was this an irragat…
Water feature. Was this an irraga…
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Chalcatzingo
photo by: geokid