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Central Petén


El Zots | Motul de San Jose | Ixl;u | Trinidad de Nosotros | Queixil Islands | Zacpetén |

     El Zotz: In the north of the Petén Itza lake, next to the famous Tikal National Park, is located the San Miguel la Palotada National Enblem Glyph Pa'ChamPark ( 34.934 ha) and the Large Classic site: El Zotz (Bat in Maya) its real name was Pa’ Chan or "Kingdom of the Broken Heaven". It was a large Classic Maya site, El Zotz with 4 main groups, the North, Central, south and El Diablo, an early classic compound of astrological character. One of the only 12 wooden lintels known, come from El Zotz'sEl Diablo group Temple I, now in National Archeology Museum in Guatemala City, shows a Ruler son of a King from Tikal. (picture below). This site is very important to understand the Classic Maya, it is close to Tikal (23 Km south east, from Tikal), but never was a vassal state, the inscriptions, relates this site more with Waka' to the north, furthermore, the dynastic line in Yaxchilán, was founded by El Zotz. (There is strong evidence that the dynasty in Yaxchilán originated in Central Petén, and the ruler ancestor names in both sites are very similar. The monumental architecture, present 49 large structures, including 4 Pyramids, the tallest (M7), being 35 m. (80 feet) high, Palaces, a ball court and 4 large chultuns, maybe used as water reservoirs. Only 2 sculptured Stelas were left behind by the intensive looting in the 60's. The last mention of the site is from Tikal in 744 AD, in a conquest war  against Naranjo context. The nearby Sites of Bejucal, La Avispa and El Palmar, were its allies and curiously against Tikal too. In may 2010, a Royal tomb was discovered and contained several offerings including Jade, but also large pieces of the precious hematite and 6 children remains in separate vessels, both features not seen before in any Maya site. Also a Flint knife with blood remains was found perhaps the one used to sacrifice the children.

 Exemplary conservational work mainly in the nature aspect of the park, has been carried out here by the University of San Carlos. This area, because of its scenic beauty,
caves and swamps, is much recommended for visits by groups. For the real adventurers, You can walk 23 Km. (Around 8 Hrs), into the Jungle, from Tikal, with the company of Park Rangers, that will offer you a bungalow, for free, in their station. Also it can bePalmitas Group explored on horseback starting from the Dos Aguadas intersection. There are 43 bat species, three of them correspond to vampires. This nocturnal mammal feared by many, has an assorted nourishment, insects, fruits, nectars, birds, fish, and they are responsible for the pollination and propagation of hundred of naturals species along the whole jungle. Before sunset, you must prepare to contemplate the most wonderful spectacle that you have ever admired. While the sound of their wings starts rising, thousands of bats flutter out of the cliff into the dark jungle forming a black stream in the sky, while the falcons waits for its prey.

El Zotz Wooden Lintel

Interior Temple M7, El Zotz

Dos Aguadas
El Zotz Map, El Diablo and Palmitas not shown
Site map, by Ian Graham

Main Temple wall

Late Classic Ceramic (2008)

Conch Rings and Pendant

3-D view of the site's mains structures.

Str M 71, Temple I, Wall

Royal Tomb Ceramic

El Diablo, Kinich Ahau Mask

Unearthed structure

La Avispa 3D site map

El Palmar 3D site map

Bejucal 3D site map


Motul de San José: Located 3 km. from the north shore of Lake Petén Itzá, Motul thrived during the Late Preclassic (300 B.C.–A.D. 300) and Early Classic (A.D. 300-600), reaching its apogee during the Late Classic (A.D. 600-830), when it was the capitol of a state in the Lake area, and declined during the Terminal Classic (A.D. 830-950) and Post Classic (A.D. 950-1200).  The site has over 200 structures mapped within its core. Five major groups have monumental architecture with temples reaching 20 m in height and range structures reaching 8 m in height. Remains of manufacturing activities have been discovered at Motul and in its environs. The richest and deepest objects at Motul was found in association with the largest complex of multi-room range structures, called the Acropolis in Group C, which may have functioned as the royal residence during the Late Classic. this site is where Dr. Antonia Foias of Williams College hypothesizes that Motul de San José is the elusive “Ik” site, a center of production for artworks ranging from stone stela to elaborately decorated pottery, commissioned from all over The Maya region. 

 The ceramic analysis discovered pre-Mamom pottery (Early Middle Preclassic between 900/1000 and 600 B.C.) at the secondary port site of
 Buenavista, located approximately 3 km southeast of Motul and on the north shore of Lake Petén Itzá.  Here, the archeologist were able to better define the pottery  characteristic of the Terminal Classic at this site, based on the extensive excavations of several palaces in the major Groups D and E. Several lines of evidence suggest that it produced the well-known Ik-Style polychrome pottery. Named for the Emblem Glyph that appears often in the hieroglyphic texts on these vessels. Motul flourished and perished in the shadow of Tikal as it was under its influence at least until the early eighth century, and as such can provide clues to the relationship between the super-power and its client or vassal states. Manufacturing activities were identified in many of the elite households excavated at this site, and ranged from spinning  for the weaving of fine to coarse textiles, Obsidian and chert tool production, to elaborate polychromic production and molded to modeled figurine manufacture. (Photos, kind courtesy of Simon Burchell)

Motul Emblem Glyph


 Stela 2

Site Maps


Stela 1
Sructure (temple)


Ixlú Stela 1

Ixlú:   Is a Terminal Classic to Post Classic Maya small site (700-1200 AD), located between the Petén Itzá and Sacpetén Lakes, that Ixlú Stela 2, 910 ADwas the main port in the Post Classic Petén, the site has Stelas and altars, the architecture shows 3 construction eras, being the Post Classic type the main. Ixlú Stela 1 shows the date 889 AD, and the broken Stela 2 is from 910 AD. In the Post Classic it was on the Ko'woj  influence .



Trinidad de Nosotros:  Sik’u’, its name during the Classic, is a site that shows a long occupation since the Mid Preclassic to the early Post Classic (600 BC to 1100 AD). This was the main port in the Lake during the Pre Classic and Classic, and its architecture shows platforms, and a dock among its features in a well protected bay in the  the Petén Iztá lake North shore. The site was intimately linked to Motul de San José  (2.5 Km. north east), and Tikal an played a key rol in the commerce routes between Northern and Southern Petén cities. The site has some 150 Structures in 50 groups, the Central area have been mapped (below) and shows 80 structures, it has a 3 temples including a round Temple 12 mt. high that is clearly seen from the lake (see 3D elevation), the ball court is 25 mt. long and has a small temple on its western wall. It has several Plazas being the V the largest, although plazas I-IV, are delimited by the main buildings and were paved with stucco, the main residential area, dated from the Late classic, its close to this plazas. There have been found several weigth stones, obsidian, jade, and pottery showing the importance of this Port. All this sites are easy to visit from Flores by car or boat.

Site map

3D sight from the lake

3D site map

Port picture

Port map

Weigth stones


 Queixil Islands: Located on the small lake Petenxil near the southern tip of Lake Petén Itzá, are two islands that show occupation from the Terminal Classic to the Terminal Post Classic (800 AD to 1697 AD) being one of the few sites with this late occupation in Petén. This area was the last conquered by the Spaniards in 1697 along with Tayasal the Capitol of the Itzáes, located on the Island of Flores. Queixil shows a concentrated  (Maler drown maps below) and distinctive Post Classic architecture. The island setting and external walls identified at nearby lakes region sites, such as Zacpetén and Muralla de Leon, demonstrate the defensible and defended nature of these sites and this was certainly an era of warfare and conflict in Petén. The Quexil-Petenxil Basin survived the political change of the Maya Collapse through a combination of purposeful political and practical action and transformed their social and family organization, effectively restructuring their households and communities, including their house architecture and spatialized religious practices, to adapt themselves to the social and political realities of post-collapse Maya-Yalnain society.

Island Air view

Eastern Island

West Island

Burial 2


Zacpetén: This site shows a long occupation, it was most heavily occupied during the Middle Preclassic (1000 BC to 300 BC), and Late Classic through Terminal Classic (AD 600 to AD 950), and Late Post Classic through Contact (AD 1200 to AD 1697) periods. Sparse evidence of occupation during intervening periods is present, but construction events during these hiatuses are minimal. Zacpetén’s Late to Terminal Classic period occupation is enigmatic. Despite the lack of large ceremonial structure from these periods, several carved stone monuments were recovered---some of which were fitted into the masonry of Late Post Classic ceremonial buildings. Group A at Zacpetén was the civic-ceremonial center of the site and contains two open halls rather than one with a small sacbé (causeway) bisecting the plaza and separating the halls. Group B includes a Late to Terminal classic ceremonial group, which was also used by later occupants. Inscriptions on the monuments and the layout of Group B suggest Late Classic ties with Tikal , which lies 25 km north of Zacpetén. Group F is a residential group to the north of the defensive system on the mainland and may also date to the Terminal Classic period. Zacpetén's Late Post Classic period occupation is concentrated in four of the five groups on the peninsula. Group D and Group E are residential groups. Group A and Group C are dominated by ceremonial buildings grouped in the Ko'woj style, Temple assemblage  with raised shrine lies at a right angle to a western facing temple rather than facing into it. This specific variant appears at central Petén sites including Zacpetén, Topoxté, and Muralla de León, all of which lie within the reconstructed Kowoj social boundaries. Ceremonial architecture outside these boundaries follows a very different pattern. For example, Late Post Classic Itzá ceremonial groups do not appear to include formal temples. The residences at Zacpetén are tandem-shaped structures standing in patio groups. Tandem residences include a front room and back room and the former has a plastered and occasionally painted surface while the latter has a earthen floor. Household production activities are concentrated in the back room, while socializing and ritual performances were focused upon the front room. This Maya Ko'woj site was the rival of Tayasal in the Post Classic.

Post Classic Itzá and Kowoj areas

Zacpetén site map

Stela 1

Classic Incense Burner



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Last updated 28/01/2011 17:07:34 -0500
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