Huamelulpan (archaeological site)
|Mixtec Culture – Archaeological Site|
|Name:||Archaeological Site Huamelulpan|
|Location||San Martín Huamelulpan, Oaxaca
|Chronology||400 BCE to 800 CE|
|Period||Mesoamerican Preclassical, Classical and Postclassical (Ramos Phase)|
|Apogee||300 BCE – 200 CE|
|INAH Web Page|
Huamelulpan is an archaeological site of the Mixtec culture, located in the town of San Martín Huamelulpan at an elevation of 2,218 metres (7,277 ft), about 96 kilometres (60 mi) north-west of the city of Oaxaca, the capital of Oaxaca state.
Because of its dimensions it must have been one of the largest Mesoamerican cities of its time, and also one with the longest occupation, from the Preclassic to the Postclassic Periods. The apogee of the settlement is estimated at the Ramos Phase (300 BCE – 200 CE), the period of Mesoamerican urban society's development.
The site was part of other early settlements in the region, such as Cerro de las Minas, Yucuita, Diquiyú and Monte Negro. Their apogee is characterized by monumental architecture and sculptures, there is also evidence of clear social stratification within their residential zones.
During site investigations many high quality urns were found here, similar Zapotec samples were found in the central valleys. Carved monoliths were found at the site, these are considered to be unique since none have been found at other Mixtec urban centers that have such similarity to the Zapotec writing of Monte Albán.
- 1 History
- 2 The Site
- 3 Regional communication
- 4 Regional relations and commerce
- 5 See also
- 6 Notas
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
The foundation of this ancient prehispanic city goes back to 400 BCE, it was an important urban center up to 800 CE; it is a good sample of the early Mixtec culture, called Ñuu Sa Na' or "Ancient People" (Ñuu Yata in the Mixteca Baja).
During their early urban stages, Huamelulpan and the main Mixtec centers maintained complex and variable relations with Monte Albán. Towards 200 CE, some Mixtec centers were partially or totally abandoned and between 400 and 800 CE, there was another urban center boom, when Huamelulpan and other sites lost their close relationships with Monte Albán and established new relations with Lower Mixtec centers linked with groups from Puebla and perhaps the Valley of Mexico. The Lower Mixtec (Ñuiñe) culture developed at this time. The city was abandoned by the Postclassic and it was only used for sumptuary burials.
According to archaeological history, the site was a very important Mixtec center, where tributes were received, to be traded with Puebla, Tehuacán and all of Oaxaca to the Pacific coast; from Tehuacán and Puebla traded fabrics and yarns, from the coast traded chilies, Jamaica, jicaras, dried fish, salt, sea shells used for necklaces, earrings, etc.
Ancient Huamelulpan had important weapon and fur workshops.
The Huamelulpan archaeological site was discovered in 1933 by Alfonso Caso and many of the pieces found are in exhibition at the Town Community Museum.
The name Huamelulpan comes from the Nahuatl language, a language that was not spoken by the original inhabitants. Its Nahuatl name means "In the huautli mound", the Mixtec name is Yucunindaba, and it means "Hill that flew".
Jansen y Pérez Jimenez offer an alternative opinion, that the native name is Yucunundaua, which translates "Hill of the Wooden Columns".
According to the Mexico Municipalities Encyclopedia, the name Huamelulpam was developed from two huamil trees that grew together and formed a letter (h), the story goes that these trees lasted for centuries, and the town was called Huamelulpam.
The Alta-Mixteca region development has been segregated into various phases; Cruz, Ramos, Las Flores and Natividad, that covers the region development from about 1500 BCE to 1530 CE.
Cruz-Ramos transition. During the transition from the mid-formative period (Late Cruz) to the late- formative (Early Ramos) the number of sites decreased in the studied area.
It is considered a consequence of the development of early Mixtec urban centers – a process observed elsewhere in Oaxaca – the Central Valleys, the Huamelulpan Valley, and the Eastern Nochixtlán Valley. Two of the Early Ramos sites – Monte Negro and Cerro Jazmin – were already urban centers covering more than one km2.
There is an apparent absence of settlements dating to the Late Ramos (200 B.C.-200 A.D.) in the major part of the area surveyed (only 15 sites, 170 ha comparing to 62 sites and 700 ha of Early Ramos). It is a striking fact because in Yucuita and Huamelulpan this period was a time of the major centralization and florescence of the regional states and general growth of the population. At the same time only two sites in the surveyed area had continuous occupation from Early Ramos to Early Flores while 20 had a gap between these phases.
|Cruz||1500–300 BCE||47 Sites||40 Sites||29 Sites||116 Sites|
|Ramos||300 BCE – 200 CE||41 Sites||27 Sites||10 Sites||78 Sites|
|Las Flores||200–1000 CE||92 Sites||67 Sites||49 Sites||208 Sites|
|Natividad||1000–1530 CE||199 Sites||179 Sites||88 Sites||466 Sites|
|Regional survey in the Central Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca, México. Conducted between January 1 and June 15, 1999.|
The Mixtec (or Mixteca) are indigenous Mesoamerican peoples inhabiting the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla in a region known as La Mixteca. The Mixtecan languages form an important branch of the Otomanguean language family.
The name "Mixtec" is a Nahuatl exonym, from /miʃ/ 'cloud' /teka/ 'inhabitant of place of'. Speakers of Mixtec use an expression (which varies by dialect) to refer to their own language, and generally this expression means "word of the rain": Tu'un Sávi [tũˀũ saβi] in one variety, for example, and Dà'àn Dávi [ðãˀã ðaβi] in another.
The Mixtecan languages constitute a branch of the Otomanguean language family of Mexico. The Mixtecan branch includes the Trique (or Triqui) languages, spoken by about 24,500 people; Cuicatec, spoken by about 15,000 people; and the large group of Mixtec languages proper, spoken by about 511,000 people. Again, the Mixtec languages proper are a grouping within the Mixtecan branch of the Otomanguean family. Virtually all of the remainder of this article is about Mixtec proper; for Cuicatec and Trique, see the separate articles. The internal classification of the Mixtecan branch, i.e., the subgrouping between Trique, Cuicatec, and Mixtec proper, is an open question. As to the Mixtec languages proper, identifying how many there are poses challenges at the level of linguistic theory. Depending on the criteria for distinguishing between a difference of dialects and a difference of languages, there may be as many as 50 different Mixtec languages
Language, codices, and artwork
The Mixtecan languages (in their many variants) were estimated to be spoken by about 300,000 people at the end of the 20th century, although the majority of Mixtec speakers also had at least a working knowledge of the Spanish language. Some Mixtecan languages are called by names other than Mixtec, particularly Cuicatec (Cuicateco), and Triqui (or Trique).
The Mixtec are well known in the anthropological world for their Codices, or phonetic pictures in which they wrote their history and genealogies in deerskin in the "fold-book" form. The best known story of the Mixtec Codices is that of Lord Eight Deer, named after the day in which he was born, whose personal name is Jaguar Claw, and whose epic history is related in several codices, including the Codex Bodley and Codex Zouche-Nuttall. He successfully conquered and united most of the Mixteca region.
They were also known for their exceptional mastery of jewelry, in which gold and turquoise figure prominently. The production of Mixtec goldsmiths formed an important part of the tribute the Mixtecs had to pay to the Aztecs during parts of their history.
Mixtec writing originated as a pictographic system during the Post-Classic period in Mesoamerican history. Records of genealogy, historic events, and myths are found in the pre-Columbian Mixtec codices. The arrival of Europeans in 1520 CE caused changes in form, style, and the function of the Mixtec writings. Today these codices and other Mixtec writings are used as a source of ethnographic, linguistic, and historical information for scholars, and help to preserve the identity of the Mixtec people as migration and globalization introduce new cultural influences.
The archaeological site includes two sets of terraces, arranged in the slope of a hill. The first set has platforms with slopped walls, stairway, hydraulic system and stands with carved numerals. The second group is integrated by two platforms, formed by rectangular structures with slopped walls and stucco remains. In addition to these groups, there are several tombs and mounds not yet explored.
The main structures of this group are oriented to the west and include: a large square platform, with a central plaza and knolls in three sides; a large terrace or Plaza 2 with an altar; and a ballgame court I shaped, 70 meters long. The explorations in the residential zones produced findings of tombs and burials with ceramics and other offerings.
There are five main sets at the site, each with several structures.
This group is formed by two large plazas with a mound in the center; others of smaller size are dispersed in the plazas.
The group is located to the foot of the "Cerro Volado" and has four low platforms around a patio.
The group is made up by two badly damaged platforms, with a housing area located between this group and the Pantheon.
The Church Group is the largest; it is a hill terrace east of the center of the municipality, with old constructions in its slopes and on which a modern day church was built with stones removed from the ancient constructions, these can be seen embedded in its walls with visible carved characters.
The group west of the Church has several platforms constructed at different levels.
Iconographic similarities shared by Guatemala and Mexican stone sculptures, establish a trade pattern and the need for a route network. Based on archaeological and ethno historical study in eastern Guerrero since 1998, an important network of roads through the Sierra Madres of Guerrero connected the settlements in Morelos and Puebla to the Pacific Coast communication and trade route.
It is certain this route played a critical role in the political and economic development of southern Mesoamerica, although its importance varied over time.
There was material and information trade between the Mexico Central Plateau, the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, it is not certain whether it was made through direct contact (15 day or more trips and 15 days to return)  or by indirect means (trading goods from community to community, without the high land people ever seeing coastal people).
Routes from the Gulf of Mexico Mountains and the center of Oaxaca seem to have been constantly open to circulation, since at least the early preclassical period; the Pacific route was apparently blocked at different points, between Chiapas and Oaxaca, for example, during the postclassical period by the Mixtec kingdom of Tututepec on the eve of the Spanish Conquest. One group of epiclassical sculptures indicates iconographic relationships between Morelos and Guerrero, with examples found in Pacific Coastal Chiapas and Guatemala.
According to Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1989:267) Mesoamerica prehispanic roads were simple compacted dirt paths, full of stone and limited by surrounding vegetation. Today these roads have disappeared, whether by railway or asphalt roads and freeways or by abandonment at prehispanic times, in addition to normal erosion deterioration, sedimentation and invasion of adjacent vegetation.
Systematic archaeological and ethnic-historical studies in eastern Guerrero from 1998, have demonstrated the existence of an important road network through the mountain ranges of Guerrero, that connected archaeological sites of Morelos and the south of Puebla with a communication and commerce trade route throughout the Pacific Ocean coast. See Figures 1 and 2
Without taking into consideration branches and secondary deviations, there are several routes identified, that connected the center of Mexico with the Guatemala Pacific Coast, one through Puebla and the sierra, and the other through the Guerrero state and the Pacific Ocean coast. Both joined at Juchitán. From Juchitán, again, there were two routes to Guatemala, one on the north that lead to MIxco-Kalimanjuyu and the other on the south that lead to Escuintla.
North Route Tenochtitlan – Juchitán
An alternate route from Cholula went southwards, towards Tehuacán, Oaxaca, Monte Albán and down to Juchitán.
Middle Route Tenochtitlan – Juchitán
This route crosses through Oaxaca had two alternatives:
- Through the Morelos Valley and then through the Lower Mixteca, Huajuapan de León; as well as Mixteca Alta, Yanhuitlán and Nochistlán.
South Route Tenochtitlan – Juchitán
This route started at Tenochtitlan, south to Morelos, Chalcatzingo and headed east towards the state of Guerrero, passing through Chiautla, Huamuxtitlán, Tlapa and Ometepec, from there headed towards the "Sierra Madre del Sur" and the coast, via Tututepec and Huatulco all the way up to Tehuantepec.
Route Juchitán to Guatemala
From Juchitán to Guatemala there were two routes, north and south.
- The northern route, went from Juchitán to Tapanatepec and then towards "Chiapa de los Indios" (Chiapa de Corzo) and headed towards Comitán and then, in Guatemalan territory, onto Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Chimaltenango and Mixco Viejo.
- The southern Isthmus or Soconusco route continued from Tapanatepec to Tonalá, Pijijiapan, Tuxtla Chico, and then in Guatemalan territory, onto Retalhuleu and down to Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Escuintla.
In spite of the importance of these routes, passage through these routes was blocked by the Mixtec Kingdom of Tututepec, that monopolized it for their own benefit and caused tensions with the political groups of the Mexican Plateau, especially with the Triple Alliance.
Regional relations and commerce
There are numerous evidences of regional trade from northwestern mesoamerican civilizations, the Mexican highlands and Centro America with southern lands as far down as Peru and Colombia, some of which are suspected but remain a strong possibility, based on evidences. Certainly, it is elemental understanding how people traveled and traded.
As early as 1881, Carl Bovallius Swedish archaeologist and investigator exploring Central America (Ometepe and Zapatera), noted: "Los Orotinas far separated from their relations, inhabiting the peninsula of Nicoya and the territory of Guanacaste, which com¬prises the north-eastern part of the republic of Costa Rica. Opinions vary, however, with regard to these groups, several authors being inclined to regard los Cholutecas as a detached branch of los Pipiles in El Salvador; they would then be of Toltecan origin. Certainly there are a number of local names within their district which seem to corroborate this opinion." 
According to Bovallius, other writers are disposed to ascribe a Mexican origin to the Orotinas and lastly Dr. Berendt suggests that the whole Chorotegan stock may be considered as a Toltecan offspring, the name Choroteganos being only a corruption of Cholutecas. According to the concurrent testimonies of the old chroniclers the Niquirans were a Mexican people settled in the country at a comparatively late period. It is not clear whether they were Toltecs or Aztecs, and this question cannot probably be decided until the ancient remains, surely very numerous, that they have left behind them, shall have been accurately studied and com¬pared with the better known Mexican antiquities. The intelligent and well-built Indians on the island of Ometepec are doubtless the descendants of the Niquirans; this is corroborated by their language, which the successful investigations of SQUIER have shown to be of Mexican origin and presenting a very close similarity to the pure Aztec tongue. (Written in 1886)
An elemental piece of this discussion was provided by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, who mentioned that once they took over Tenochtitlan (1521 CE), lords from Tehuantepec came before Cortes to ask for help in fighting one of their neighbors, Tututepec, whom were battling them constantly. Cortes sent Pedro de Alvarado who in time conquered Tututepec. It is interesting understanding the Tututepec political expansion and their western wars against the Mexicas, near Ometepec, Guerrero and to the east with Tehuantepec, they had blocked that route during the Mesoamerican postclassical period.
There are many debates related to the definition of specific sculptures styles, in general terms the Parsons proposal is accepted, in the sense that there is a mesoamerican sculpture tradition from the preclassical to the postclassical periods, with divergent lines, some of which disappear and others with evolving styles from regional development, and that at the same time, with cross information from a region to another, that there are spectacular fashion styles that may vanish at a point in time, only to return adapted to new conditions.
This process has an effect in the chronology, makes an exact dating of pieces troublesome, the problem is compounded because the majority of the pieces lost their original context, some from prehispanic times.
Early Preclassical Period (1200–900 BCE)
Based on the presence of a ceramic style pottery shaped as pots (Tecomates), found in the Tlapa and Huamuxtitlán, it is known that the region had an early cultural development predating the Olmecs.
A female ceramic figurine from the Huamuxtitlán valley indicates an archaeological occupation of eastern Guerrero State, contemporary to the Chiapas Ocós Phase (1500–1350 BCE); while the appearance of Olmec type figures in Marquelia at the Costa Chica, could prove an Olmec transition process, as proposed for Mazatán, Chiapas during the Cherla and Cuadros Phases (1350–1150 BCE). See Figure 4 of Huamuxtitlán and Figure 5 Marquelia Page 927
Mid-Preclassical Period (900-500 BCE)
Stratigraphic wells and radiocarbon dating at the Contlalco and Cerro Quemado-La Coquera sites in the Tlapa Valley, Guerrero, confirm massive platforms construction between 740 and 500 BCE.
Olmec-style murals in the Oxotitlán, Juxtlahuaca and Cauadzidziqui caves and sculpture from the Teopantecuanitlan site, confirm a strong connection with Chalcatzingo in the Valley of Morelos. Iconographic representations similarities of these sites with the Pacific coast of Chiapas and Guatemala, depict closer relations than those suggested by the argument that they simply share a pan-mesoamerican tradition.
Should also note the similarity between the relief of Chalchuapa (El Salvador) with the main character of Cauadzidziqui, Guerrero. Other cases involving close similarities are noted in Xoc, Chiapas, and the San Miguel Amuco, Guerrero relief.
Late Preclassical Period (500 BCE – 200 CE)
According to Parsons, during this time an iconographical transition between the Olmec and Izapa communication codes takes place, as would be the cases of Monument 55 of Takalik Abaj, Guatemala, and Monument 1 of Huamelulpan, Oaxaca.
However, for the case of Guerrero and Morelos this phase lends itself to controversy, since chronologically speaking the mixture of time periods of Olmec symbols in sculptures and reliefs is not understood, as reported by the main archeological sites of the region. The symbols permanence from one period to another is the main factor that makes the task difficult of understanding the styles evolution and the connections between diverse regions. See Takalik Abaj, Guatemala, Monument 55 and the Huamelulpan, Oaxaca Monument
Parsons noticed that this S-inverted glyph appears also at the chest of the post-Olmec sculpture of Palo Gordo, Suchitepéquez, known as the "Piedra Santa" (holy stone) sculpture. This same glyph is repeated in Chalcatzingo's monument 31 where the S-inverted is depicted in a scene in which a bird beaked jaguar attacks a human.
Another identifiable figure is the bird-man, characterized by men dressed as birds. This figure can be identified at the mid-preclassical Oxotitlan cave, as well as Estela 4 and altar 3 at Izapa, during the late preclassical and continues to be used during the epiclassical sculpture at Villa Rotaria, in the Guerrero Costa Grande.
The use of the Pacific Ocean communication route during the late preclassical, is also inferred from the Izapa estela-smooth altar and its similarity to the steles and smooth altars found at the sites of the Pelillo and Metates sites of the Costa Chica, Guerrero; as with the "barrigones" of Monte Alto, Guatemala and the full-bodied "barrigon" from Cola Palma, Pinotepa Nacional in the boundaries between Oaxaca and Guerrero.
Late Classical Period (600–900 CE)
During the early classical and even up to 600 CE, the iconographic codes seem to be silenced. The Petén and Usumacinta Mayan style dominate in the Chiapas and Guatemala highlands. On the Oaxaca coast the codes become Zapote and Ñuiñe, while in Guerrero and the Guatemala Costa Teotihuacan predominates. Decomposition of the Teotihuacano political system started by the 650 CE, coincides with a revival of iconographic codes of the Pacific coast. The Cotzumalguapa style flourishes in the Guatemala coast, while Guerrero registers the same code shared is sites like Xochicalco, Teotenango and Cacaxtla. Reminiscent of the late preclassical, the scenes can be quite elaborate and are accompanied by multiple glyphs and numerals which are used to represent calendar dates or names of the characters.
Again there are coincidences style and themes throughout the coast of the Pacific, there is a clear example in crossed arms sculptures, apparently representations of ancestors. The complex of men jaguar, present since the Tuxtla Chico mid-preclassical sculpture and observable even today with guerrerenses peoples fertility dances, reached a great splendor in the case of El Baúl, Stela 27 and Piedra Labrada, monument 3. Jaguars of these two sites, El Baúl and Piedra Labrada, exhibit also aesthetic similarities as noticed in the 1960s by Miles. Sometimes, as in Xochicalco stele 3; Horcones stele 4 (Chiapas), and a ceramic figurine from Azoyú, Guerrero, Jaguars have bifid tongues, as if recalling a "heart devouring" ancient deity, depicted in the Teotihuacan murals of Atetelco.
In 1986, when Carlos Navarrete registered the sculptural body of Cerro Bernal, was the first to propose the iconographic relationship between central Mexico and the Pacific coast, by associating the body glyph and iconography of the Horcones stele 3 with Xochicalco Stela 2. It is now known that this association followed the Guerrero and Costa Chica route, thanks to the two Tlaloc representations located in Chilpancingo. One of the Tlaloc figures has the "cuatro movimiento" (four movement) glyph in the chest, in the same style used in Xochicalco. Characters with goggles, possibly rain deities are present along the coast, as in the case of the so-called "Dios Cangrejo" (God Crab) from Bilbao" and Monument 12 at Piedra Labrada.
Another example present in both regions is the death deities that "crumble" hearts with skeletal hands, as the case of El Baúl, monument 4 and Terreno de Coimbra monument 1, near Marquelia, on the Guerrero Costa Chica. The Coimbra death deity is probably associated with the complex of death gods, such as those of Palo Gordo, but finding more samples in eastern Guerrero, are required to confirm this relationship.
Just like during the early classical, is during the postclassical period when the iconographic connection is lost again, detected between the Valley of Morelos and Guerrero, and Guerrero eastern coast of Chiapas with Guatemala, is lost. But unlike the early classical, it is known that during the postclassical period, the Tututepec political expansion is responsible for having blocked the Pacific route and the route never again had important traffic. Ironically it is today, with migrants and narcotics trafficking, when the Pacific route, land and maritime, has strongly resurfaced reviving routes lost a thousand years ago.
- Mixtec Culture
- San José Mogote
- Cerro de las Minas
- Costa Chica
- Mazatán, Chiapas
- Chiapa de Corzo
- Tak´alik Ab´aj,
- Mixco Viejo
- Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa
In El Salvador:
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