A look at Jalisco’s round pyramids


Los Guachimontones is a prehispanic archaeological site near the Mexican town of Teuchitlán in the state of Jalisco about an hour west of Guadalajara. It is the major site of the so-called Teuchitlan tradition, a complex society that existed from as early as 300 BCE until perhaps 900 CE.

Guachi4rsimerlyThe site was discovered in 1970 and the important research only began in 1996. However, despite little research and knowledge of the site, important information about the site is known, thanks to the work of US researcher Phil Weigand, his wife Arcelia García and a research team. In 2012, an interactive museum named after researcher Phil Weigand opened at the Guachimontes site.

Guachi3rsimerlyToday, 1500 years after the abandonment of the area by its inhabitants, Guachimontones is being restructured and rediscovered. Many of archaeological areas are in poor conditions caused by agriculture of the owners of these lands. It has been designated a World Heritage site, which does not indicate that the work is finished, but that is just starting.

The site currently covers some 19 hectares, although it is estimated that during its apogee had over 24 thousand, and it was inhabited by about 40 thousand people. It consisted of complex is based on five identified features:
Guachi1reconstructed• A central pyramid.
• An elevated circular patio surrounding the pyramid.
• A circular sidewalk surrounding the patio.
• Between eight and twelve rectangular platforms on the sidewalk.
• Funerary crypts under some of the platforms.

The dominant features at los Guachimontones are circular stepped pyramids in the middle of circular building complexes. The 60-foot (18 m) tall pyramid at Circle 2 has 13 high steps leading to an upper level, which was then topped with another 4 high steps. A post hole was located at the very highest level, most likely for Volador ceremonies. The pyramids may also have supported small temples.

Guachi5rsimerlyThe word Teuchitlán is derived from Teotzitlán or Teutzitlán interpreted as “place dedicated to the divine”, “place of the God Tenoch ” or “place dedicated to the revered God”.

Although much is still unknown about the Teuchitlan culture, the city foundation is thought to go back to the Aztecs, who erected it on a hill called Huachimontón, north of its current location. It was founded by members of Nahuatlacas groups that developed central Mexico during the postclassical period, however it is known that buildings at Teuchitlán were built prior to such development.

To reach Guachimontones take the road to Tepic (west of Guadalajara), then take the exit to Tequila, continue to Tala and on to Teuchitlán. The site is open to visitors 9:00 to 5:00 Tuesday thru Sunday. Admission on Tuesdays is free; other days it is $30 pesos general admission, half price for students and teachers, and children under 12 free.

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RogerSimerlyABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Roger Simerly
Examples of Roger’s photographic skills can be seen on this page, as well as our home page panorama. Roger lives in Ajijic with his wife Julie and son Aiden. To view more of Roger’s photo gallery, go to http://www.rsimerly.com/.