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Archaeologists Uncover Structure Linked to the Cult of Kukulcán

Structure Linked to the Cult of Kukulcán
A structure in El Tigre linked to the cult of Kukulcán. Credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)

Archaeologists in Mexico found an old, round building that might have been used for worship by a Maya group a thousand years ago. They dug up this interesting two-story structure at a place called El Tigre in the Campeche state, located in southeast Mexico.

Diego Prieto Hernández, the director of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), shared this exciting find at a press conference on Monday with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, reported Vice.

This building expands on what we know about the later times when people lived at El Tigre, Prieto Hernández mentioned, as reported by Mexico News Daily.

Circular structures like this one typically date back to the early Postclassic period spanning the years 1000 to 1200 CE. During that time, the Maya area had connections with other parts of Mesoamerica, especially with Central Mexico, Oaxaca, and the Gulf Coast, Hernández further explained.

El Tigre was first settled by people 2,000 years ago

El Tigre has a long history, going back more than two thousand years ago. This was when Indigenous peoples first settled there. As time passed, it became an important city for the Chontal Maya civilization.

They built impressive structures, including pyramids and temples, much like what one would find at other Maya sites—such as at Chichén Itzá—in the Yucatan Peninsula, according to Vice.

Archaeologists believe the El Tigre site is the same as an old Maya settlement known as Itzamkanac. This place was dedicated to the snake god Kukulcán.

The round building most likely served as a temple for this god, who was similar to the wind god Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl in that region, as explained in a statement from INAH posted on Monday.

The significance of the El Tigre building is that it was built during the early Postclassic period, between 1000 and 1200 CE. During this time, the river port at the site had strong connections with other areas in Mesoamerica, including Central Mexico, Oaxaca, and the Gulf Coast.

It is possible that the worship of the god Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl originated from these regions, according to the INAH post.

Temples dedicated to four main deities of the Postclassic Maya

In the historical document, known as the Paxbolón Maldonado Papers, from the time of the Chontal Chief Don Pablo Paxbolón (1575-1576), it is mentioned that the main structure at El Tigre had temples dedicated to the four main deities of the Postclassic Maya.

One of these deities was Kukulcán, a Maya version of Quetzalcóatl. This finding has led archaeologist Vargas Pacheco to suggest that El Tigre might be the same place as the Itzamkanac mentioned in historical records, according to INAH.

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