Chiapa de Corzo Archaeological Zone was inaugurated by Alfonso de Maria y Campos, National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) general director, and the governor of Chiapas State, Juan Sabines Guerrero, as part of the compromise acquired by the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, to open 10 new archaeological sites during his administration.

The Prehispanic site located 2 kilometers away from Grijalva River, in Chiapas, is one of the few Zoque Culture sites open to public in the country. The origin of this ceremonial and administrative center goes back 3,500 years, being a strategic point in commercial routes between the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts.

Alfonso de Maria y Campos recalled the presidential compromise of opening to public 10 archaeological zones; 3 of them are in the southeastern state. “Chiapas is, in this sense, the most benefited entity, since two more sites will be inaugurated in the next years: Plan de Ayutla and Lagartero”.

The INAH chief acknowledged and thanked Nestle Company for the donation of 6,500 square meters of terrain to consolidate the polygonal protection area, and announced that negotiations are being carried out to buy another hectare and a half from local owners.

The archaeological site will become a meeting place, reinforcing Chiapas identity; the cultural park enhances Mexican heritage and testifies to the transformation of Chiapas people.

Chiapa de Corzo Archaeological Zone is located 17 kilometers away from the capital of the state, Tuxtla Gurierrez. Admission is free during winter 2009-2010 holiday period, Monday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00 hours.

Zoque Seigniory

There are 3 main buildings at the zone, constructed during the apogee of the city, more than 1,000 years ago. Rulers resided in the constructions known as El Palacio or Structure 1; Structure 5 and Structure 7.

“They are the most representative examples of places where ritual and administrative activities took place, around 900 AD, when nearly 70,000 persons dwelled the nearby places”, archaeologist Adan Pacheco Benitez explained.

“Opening of the zone that ruled the broad region of Chiapas Central Depression, at the fertile Grijalva River bank, will help people give up on the idea of every Southeast Mexico archaeological site being Maya”, added the director of Chiapa de Corzo Archaeological Project.

The city was founded near 1,400 BC, having constant dwelling and development. “In different moments, Chiapa de Corzo maintained relations with Olmeca and Maya cultures. It sustained a strong relation with Olmeca groups near 850 and 450 AD, due to the closeness with San Lorenzo, La Venta and Izapa.

“The link with Maya people came after, from 400 BC, as ceramic material found in the site reveal. This relation was also close, adopting Zoque people the ceramic known as Maya Sierra Red Pottery and manufacturing it”.

Archaeologist Pacheco added that during 3 years of excavation and restoration, more than 60,000 fragments of ceramic material have been found, being analyzed half of them. These studies have determined the different occupations of the area. In 2008 human osseous rests were discovered, pertaining to a woman of approximately 40 years of age when she died. Antiquity has not been established yet.  

Regarding the city’s abandonment causes, hypothesis point out to changes in commercial routes or internal conflicts. “After the peak around 900 AD, came the desertion, but it was inhabited soon again by Zoques, but not as a sacred space.

“By the end of 1,400 AD, Zoques were expelled by Chiapa groups, although they remained in the site for a short period: in 1528 Spaniards arrived, commanded by Diego de Mazariegos. A myth tells that Chiapa people decided to throw themselves to Sumidero Canyon before being conquered”, concluded Pacheco Benitez.