El Tajín

Related Articles

Related Articles

El Tajín is an archaeological site and ancient city of the Classic era of Mesoamerica, located in the highlands of the municipality of Papantla in Mexico.

El Tajín, named after the Totonac rain god and meaning “of thunder or lightning bolt” was first occupied around 5600 BC by nomadic hunters and gatherers that evolved into sedentary farmers.

The first city builders are contested by archaeologists, with some theories suggesting the Totonacs and the Xapaneca, or possibly the Huastec around AD 100. By AD 600, the site had grown into a large urban complex with monumental construction, due in part to El Tajín’s strategic position along the old Mesoamerican trade routes controlling what is now the modern-day Veracruz state.

 

Image Credit : Michael Swigart

The city comprises of numerous temples, plazas, palaces, ballcourts, and pyramids, with the most notable being the Pyramid of the Niches (named for the approximately 365 recesses on its four sides).

Most of the city’s inhabitants lived in the surrounding hills, obtaining their produce and foodstuffs from the Tecolutla, Nautla and Cazones areas. These fields not only produced staples such as corn and beans but luxury items such as cacao.

El Tajín reached its peak around the fall of Teotihuacan, where many cultures saw a widespread social collapse and migration, resulting in the abandonment of many urban and population centres at the time.

Image Credit : Michael Swigart

The city began to have extensive influence starting around this time, which can be best seen at the neighboring site of Yohualichan, whose buildings show the kinds of niches that define El Tajin. Evidence of the city’s influence can be seen along the Veracruz Gulf coast to the Maya region and into the high plateau of central Mexico. El Tajín continued to prosper until the 13th century AD, when the city was destroyed, possibly by the Chichimecs that resulted in the city becoming abandoned.

Although most probably known to the local inhabitants of the region, the city was rediscovered in 1785 by Diego Ruiz who stumbled upon the Pyramid of the Niches, whilst looking for clandestine tobacco plantings.

El Tajín was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1992, because of its historical significance and architecture and engineering.

Header Image Credit : Michael Swigart

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Giant Sand Worm Discovery Proves Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Simon Fraser University researchers have found evidence that large ambush-predatory worms--some as long as two metres--roamed the ocean floor near Taiwan over 20 million years ago.

Burial Practices Point to an Interconnected Early Medieval Europe

Early Medieval Europe is frequently viewed as a time of cultural stagnation, often given the misnomer of the 'Dark Ages'. However, analysis has revealed new ideas could spread rapidly as communities were interconnected, creating a surprisingly unified culture in Europe.

New Starfish-Like Fossil Reveals Evolution in Action

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered a fossil of the earliest starfish-like animal, which helps us understand the origins of the nimble-armed creature.

Mars Crater Offers Window on Temperatures 3.5 Billion Years Ago

Once upon a time, seasons in Gale Crater probably felt something like those in Iceland. But nobody was there to bundle up more than 3 billion years ago.

Early Humans Used Chopping Tools to Break Animal Bones & Consume the Bone Marrow

Researchers from the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University unraveled the function of flint tools known as 'chopping tools', found at the prehistoric site of Revadim, east of Ashdod.

50 Million-Year-Old Fossil Assassin Bug Has Unusually Well-Preserved Genitalia

The fossilized insect is tiny and its genital capsule, called a pygophore, is roughly the length of a grain of rice.

Dinosaur-Era Sea Lizard Had Teeth Like a Shark

New study identifies a bizarre new species suggesting that giant marine lizards thrived before the asteroid wiped them out 66 million years ago.

The Iron Age Tribes of Britain

The British Iron Age is a conventional name to describe the independent Iron Age cultures that inhabited the mainland and smaller islands of present-day Britain.

Popular stories

The Iron Age Tribes of Britain

The British Iron Age is a conventional name to describe the independent Iron Age cultures that inhabited the mainland and smaller islands of present-day Britain.

The Roman Conquest of Wales

The conquest of Wales began in either AD 47 or 48, following the landing of Roman forces in Britannia sent by Emperor Claudius in AD 43.

Vallum Antonini – The Antonine Wall

The Antonine Wall (Vallum Antonini) was a defensive wall built by the Romans in present-day Scotland, that ran for 39 miles between the Firth of Forth, and the Firth of Clyde (west of Edinburgh along the central belt).

Vallum Aulium – Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall (Vallum Aulium) was a defensive fortification in Roman Britannia that ran 73 miles (116km) from Mais at the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea to the banks of the River Tyne at Segedunum at Wallsend in the North Sea.