Saturday, August 10, 2013

Roadie: La Quemada

Our tour guide, who spoke only Spanish, midway up La Quemada. (7/27/13)
On the second day in Zacatecas, Mexico, we left the city, and eponymous state capital, to venture further south to “Zona Arqueológica La Quemada.” The hope with this 40 minute excursion was to see mountainside colonial ruins, including a "pyramid." Actually an "altar (votive) pyramid", the scope of the pyramid at La Quemada is nowhere near that of, the more familiar Egyptian ones. Like much of this trip to Mexico, the preconceived notions and associative connotations varied from teh reality, but not in a negative way. From the "Americanized" Monterrey to colonial Zacatecus, and now to La Quemada, we had seen three very distinct sides of Norhtern and Southern Mexican architecture. La Quemada, like the other locales, also procved a vista from whcih one could see for miles around.

La Quemada is made up of numerous different size masonry platforms built onto the hill, these were foundations for structures built over them. On the south and southeastern sides is a high concentration of ceremonial constructions, some of which are complexes made up of sunken patio platforms and altar-pyramid, a typical Mesoamerican architectonic attribute.

Cactus. (7/27/13)
Prior to embarking on our hike, we were guided into a gift shop which held three glass small glass enclosures. In each was a different type of snake we could potentially encounter on our walk. Our tour was delivered in Spanish, so our friends who were with us told me that the guide suggested there may be more snakes than usual at the mountain top as the region had recently (within the month) experienced some rainfall. The moisture at the base of the mountain had driven many of the snakes upward toward the more arid areas of the mountain. Fortunately, while we did cross paths with one rather large (and fat) snake, following this meeting most of us stayed toward the centre of paths while walking in areas with longer grass on either side.

The Muralla, or Wall," visible from below. (7/27/13)
If the total elements of this site are considered, from the extensive roads and the numerous smaller sites linked to La Quemada, this is a singular archaeological site in the context of mesoamerican sites.

More cactus. (7/27/13)
I took quite many pictures of local flora while at La Quemada. This was not because the cactus were not visible through the car window at almost every point on our 5 hour drive from Zacatecas, but because here I did not need to worry about offending the federales or attracting local peddlers on the roadside--both realities of travel in rural Mexico.

Close-up on the Muralla. (7/27/13)
This wall (Muralla is the protective perimeter wall) is emphasized, by its dimensions (four metres high by three metres thick) as well as by its location on edges of the cliffs surrounding the north and northeast parts of the site. Apparently this structure was constructed towards the end of the occupation of La Quemada and, perhaps, it represents one of the best indicators of the problems faced by city residents as well as their perseverance to remain there.

At the highest point in La Quemada is the Ciudadela. (7/27/13)
Ciudadela is located at the highest part of the site, several buildings have been identified, possibly used for ceremonial and defensive purposes.

Mexican big sky. (7/27/13)

The Columns Hall consists of ancient building columns at La Quemada. (7/27/13)
Salón de las Columnas (Columns Hall) is a 41 by 32 metre enclosure, probably reached a height of more than five metres before the fire that caused its destruction. In their interior eleven columns supported the roof. Until now its specific function is not known. Although works made in the 1950s indicate a ceremonial use possibly related to human sacrifice.

Escalinata. (7/27/13)
At about 30 metres west of the Votive Pyramid this stairway (Escalinata) was discovered. Used as main access to the top levels of the site, it was constructed in two stages; the first, that approximately reached the middle of the height now observed, apparently it was round shape, and can be associated with shapes of now missing structures; the second, built over the former and with greater height, it reached the walkway on the second level, evidence shows ties with a two ramp stairway that ascended to the third level. At a point in time the main stairway was cancelled, by defence reasons by means of the retaining wall, limiting access.

Your's truly on Pirámide Votiva . (7/27/13)
Pirámide Votiva (Votive Pyramid) is more than 10 metres high and is highlighted by the angle of its slopes. During Corona Nuñez works, in 1995, slope vestiges with remains of a stairway were found, that ascended the south side of the pyramid. With time the middle and top parts crumbled to the ground, where they can be seen at the present time. Originally, the stairway reached the top of the pyramid where a room or temple constructed with perishable materials apparently existed.

Pirámide Votiva. (7/27/13)

Hector on Pirámide Votiva. (7/27/13)

Pirámide Votiva from a higher elevation. (7/27/13)

Juego de Pelota or ball game court. (7/27/13)
This structure, of mesoamerican features, was constructed on an enormous platform that extends from the north of the Votive Pyramid throughout the access stairway at the south slope of the court. It measures 70 by 15 metres and it displays the characteristic letter “I” shape; the side walls are as wide as those of the Columns Hall (2.70 meters) and assumed a height of between three and five meters.

Architectural remains. (7/27/13)
The structures pictured below were likely houses. Reportedly, the roof caught fire and collapsed leaving only skeletal architectural remains. It was at this point our guide told us that the Mexicans who lived here were very "dark skinned" due to their proximity to the sun. At least that is was I was told when Miguel chuckled at the guide's commentary and I inquired as to why.

Homes. (7/27/13)

The only real "wildlife, other than sankes, a small lizard. (7/27/13)

Heading back down. (7/27/13)

Water column. (7/27/13)
The only running water at Zona Arqueológica La Quemada was modern in its source. The "water column" pictured above was located at the end of the tour. Following the 60 minute hike at high elevations,  it and the nearby bathrooms, were welcome sights.

Primary Infromational Source:
Wikipedia Entry: La Quemada

No comments: