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Ujuxte
Pacific Lowlands Ceramic Gallery         Lowlands and Highlands Sculpture Gallery

The site of Ujuxte (Ramon tree or breadnut tree) (uh-hush-te) is the largest Pre Classical site to be discovered in Pacific coast, Guatemala. The site includes approximately two hundred earthen mounds spread over some 200 hectares (494 acres) of farmland. It is located twelve kilometers from the Pacific Ocean in the far western corner of Guatemala. The site emerged after La Blanca and El Mesak faded, and is of particular importance because there has been no pre-classical site of comparable size and period of occupation excavated in this region. The investigation of Ujuxte could produce information about the development of social stratification, the emergence of an elite, and the process of urbanization in an area which is critical for understanding the emergence of civilization in Mesoamerica. The site was founded most likely about 1200 BC. and was occupied until about 200 AD. Its apogee ended ca. 400 BC, when the dominance shifted to Tak'alik Abaj, 40 Km to the northeast. The largest of the mounds, Mound 1, forms the northwest boundary of the central plaza. It rises some twenty meters above the plain and required more than 60,000 cubic meters of earth for its construction. The second largest mound, Mound 2, is the northeast boundary of the central plaza. It is the focal point of a complex that involves at least seven smaller mounds, all arranged on a platform. This grouping and its platform required around 63,000 cubic meters of earth for its construction.  Ujuxte was in large part a planned city. Most of the city’s mounds have an orientation about 35 degrees east of magnetic north. There are also Late Pre-Classic groups within the city whose mounds have an orientation of 55 degrees east of north. Both large mounds and small residential mounds are laid out with regular, nearly grid like spacing, creating streets and boulevards. The civic architecture of Ujuxte also follows a formal plan. The heart of Ujuxte’s ceremonial center consists of Mound 1 and the Mound 2 Complex. The Mound 2 Complex proper consists of seven mounds on a large platform. Mound 1 is southwest of the group and probably had its stairway on the south side.

The plan of the entire complex, including a smaller version of Mound 1, is duplicated at the nearby secondary center of Chiquirines. The largest mound at Chiquirines has its stairway on the west side, however. The plan of the Mound 2 platform is followed at the site of SM-142 as well, but lacks a large mound to the west. The SM-142 site might be classified as a tertiary center (Love).

Ujuxte has many spaces with evident restricted access. Other spaces are enclosed in different structured ways. South of Mound 2 lies a massive ballcourt formed by Mounds 3 and 4. Both Mound 4 and the adjacent Mound 5 have enclosed patios on their east sides. An enclosed elite residential area may also be present near the core of ceremonial buildings. The tallest residential mounds within Ujuxte lie in a zone bounded by large ceremonial mounds and a now dry streambed. These mounds have extremely high densities of ground stone tools and large quantities of decorated ceramics.

The chronology of Ujuxte places it as the second in a sequence of three regional centers in the area, between the sites of La Blanca, some twelve kilometers to the Northwest of Ujuxte, and the site of Tak´alik´ Abaj´, about thirty kilometers to the Northeast.

The Ujuxte Archaeological Project was begun, in order to amplify data on the Early and Middle Preclassic periods along the Pacific coastal plain of Guatemala and to investigate the key questions of regional prehistory following the collapse of La Blanca. The research at Ujuxte is centered on the study of the growth and collapse of early states in the region. It is to be  noted that two nearby secondary centers, Chiquirines and Coatunco had a focal grouping of mounds that replicated the principal grouping at Ujuxte.


Similarities  in the alignment of Ujuxte
and Minor sites nearby

The two largest mounds are the focus of the central plaza witch is oriented to the raising of the sun on the mornings of the spring and fall equinoxes, Mound 1 is 20 meters in height and Mound 2 is 16 meters high. The plaza also consists of an early ball court formed by Mounds 3 and 4, each over 7 meters tall. Early occupation of the site was widespread, covering over 4 square kilometers. Later growth filled in the open spaces, forming the current dense pattern of mounds seen today. The central plaza appears to have a celestial alignment that coincides with the rise and fall of the Pleiades. Also, on the summer solstice, the sun rises from behind the Tajumulco volcano on the eastern horizon, in a line directly over the plaza. The celestial alignment is only maintained in the central plaza, most likely the ceremonial center. The outer edges of the site, however, show no alignment, possibly representing a residential area. Several regional sites, contemporaneous and in proximity to Ujuxte, are smaller copies and appear to be secondary centers to Ujuxte, which indicate its importance and domination in the region.

 Remnants of the hard packed dirt floors of the plaza from the Middle to Late Preclassic transitional period,  300 BC, through the middle of the Late Preclassic Period,  100 BC, were uncovered. Buried beneath the floors at the near the axis intersection were caches of whole vessels.


Site Map


Mopa Black and Mopa Brown.
Ceramic Middle Pre Classic


Central area map

Preclassic Figurine

Preclassic Figurine

Preclassic Figurine and wheeled toy

Jadeite ornamental tube

Jadeite ornamental tube

Obsidian Hatch

Mopa Orange Vessels Middle Pre Classic

Altar  buried in Central Plaza

Tajumulco volcano

References:
Love, Michael, Donaldo Castillo, y Beatriz Balcárcel
1996 Exploraciones Arqueológicas en El Ujuxte, Retalhuleu. Informe Preliminar sobre la Temporada de 1994-96 del Proyecto Ujuxte. Entregado al Instituto de Antropología e Historia de Guatemala
Michael Love
2000 Reports Submitted to FAMSI:
The Analysis of Archaeological Materials from El Ujuxte, Guatemala
Michael Love, California State University, Northridge
Work Conducted in the Laboratory Season of 2000

 

     

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Last updated 28/01/2011 17:07:37 -0500
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