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Tak'alik' Ab'aj

Tak'alik' Ab'aj Gallery

Pacific Lowlands Ceramic Gallery         Lowlands and Highlands Sculpture Gallery

In May 2010, the Sixth Jade Funeral Mask found in this city (The Most at any Maya site up to now) was revealed, its complexity is very unique, due to a Hairdress, something not seen until now. A recent discovery (March 2008), of an square "Altar" under a Stela carefully sited on top of it, could be the dedicatory monument of the inauguration of the city's first Maya ruler, ca 200 BC, the glyph are definitely Preclassic, and the epigraphers will study it. Only 3 sides have been cleared at hopefully the fourth will tell the exact date.

In the Early Pre Classic, The Río Naranjo region was dominated by the site of La Blanca, whose sphere of influence probably extended from the Río Suchiate and Izapa in the west to the Río Ocosito in the east. including El Mesak. The second major center was  Tak'alik A'baj, located 45 km east of  La Blanca in the piedmont region. Information about Tak'alik A'baj during the Early and Middle Pre-Classic is limited, but the impressive corpus of Olmec sculpture from the site marks it as the most important regional centers of the Mesoamerican Pacific Coast at this time (Graham 1977, 1979, 1981, 1989; Graham and Benson 1990; Graham, Heizer, and Shook Classic Funeral mask1978; Orrego Corzo 1990). The trajectory of increasing complexity continued into the latter half of the Middle Pre-Classic, but in a greatly changed historical setting. La Blanca declined sharply at about 600 B.C. and became a small village. Sometime after that a Maya group arrived at Tak'alik A'baj and either conquered or displaced the previous inhabitants, as witnessed by the great corpus of early Maya sculpture (Graham, Heizer, and Shook 1978). These events at Tak’alik A’baj are not well dated, but the expected publication of the ceramic sequence developed by the Guatemalan national project working at the site will clarify the cultural and chronological relationships. Related in some way to these two major events was the founding and growth of the settlement of Ujuxte. This site lies on the coastal plain just 12 km east of La Blanca and 40 km southwest of Tak’alik A’baj. The ceramics of Ujuxte show that it was founded near the end of the Conchas period, at about 600 B.C., just as La Blanca declined ( LovePreclassic monument and Herrera). Although Ujuxte has a complex settlement history, it appears that most of the site area was occupied soon after 500 B.C. and occupation continued expanding during the Late Pre-Classic. the middle preclassic sculptural corpus at Tak’alik Ab'aj indicates that it was also a major and powerful center but its size during the middle preclassic is uncertain.

    Tak'alik Ab'aj in the Pacific Lowlands is a well studied trade center since the Early Preclassic, the original population apparently Early Classic sculpturearrived during the Early Preclassic period, and around the Middle Preclassic, the inhabitants were already involved in a trade network that connected the Olmec groups. The trade network was concentrated in a lineal route that ran along the boca costa region in Guatemala and that connected Mexico with El Salvador. By the beginning of the Late Preclassic period, trade nexuses were switched to the Maya groups, with a strong orientation towards Kaminaljuyú in the Highlands. The commercial route was essentially the same, except for the fact that Kaminaljuyú and its trade connections with the Motagua basin were integrated into the network. This connection ceased to exist by the end of the Preclassic period. At the beginning of the Early Classic period, Tak’alik Ab’aj established new relationships with the Northwestern Guatemalan Highlands, more specifically with the Solano group that was in a process of expansion from the centers located in the northwest, and which eventually took control over Kaminaljuyú. At that time, the trade route no longer continued in line along the boca costa, but instead, it became vertical, connecting the South Coast not only with the Northwestern Highlands but indirectly, with the Central highlands now under the control of the Solano group. Another change occurred during the Late Classic, when Tak’alik Ab’aj apparently became independent just like many other sites of the South Coast ofPreclassic drainage still working Guatemala, such as Chocolá, in the department of Suchitepéquez, and Cotzumalguapa, Montana and Texas in the department of Escuintla (Bove 1989:80).

Tak’alik Ab’aj was experiencing an era of revitalization, and was initiating a period of intense reconstruction works to relocate many of the ancient monuments in critical places, as dictated by the new remodelling of the structures. It is important to remember that the population of Tak’alik Ab’aj stayed there uninterruptedly and in situ, despite the several changes occurred with their commercial Preclassic Monumentpartners. In the Late Classic, the scene turned into a mosaic of independent centers in the South Coast and the Altiplano, all of them interacting, or either, as we shall see in this case, competing with one another for territory and resources. Therefore, the pottery at Tak’alik Ab’aj shows a continued evolution since its earliest occupation, throughout its entire trajectory, and up to the end of the Late Classic period, reflected in a ceramic tradition denominated Ocosito. Its frontiers probably extended to the west up to Coatepeque or beyond, to the south down to the Ocosito River, and to the east, to the Samala River (Herrera 1995:76). The sole major change in the sequence took place right at the end of the Late Classic, with the arrival of pottery originated in the K’iche’ area and that subsequently began to blend with the Ocosito Tradition. Shortly after, during the Early Postclassic period, the K’iche’ pottery was quickly infiltrated in the site, and the Ocosito Tradition disappeared or was absorbed by the new complex. No hiatus or pause exists between the Late Classic and Early Postclassic developments. Following the initial contact, the local simply was replaced with the new, and this covered almost the entire site.

  The site has notably large monuments. Six altars weigh between 4.5 and 7.0 tons; the largest altar weighs in excess of 11 tons. Stelas are similarly monumental; five weigh between 1 and 5 tons; 4 weigh between 5 and 10 tons; 2 are over 10 tons, and the largest intact stela weighs 17.25 tons. Average weight of the 12 largest stelas is 14.8 tons. The stone of almost all monuments is andesite and is identical to the natural boulders which abound in the site and surrounding areas

 Tak’alik A’baj is located in the Guatemalan Pacific Low Lands, far away from Petén at the North, making it the largest Mayan city in the Pacific Ocean coastal area in Mesoamérica, the city is also interesting due to its long occupation periods (800 BC to 900 AD). It was Takalik Stela 5reoccupied by the K'iché in the Post Classic until ca. 1300 AD, it is the only site in Mesoamerica with Olmec influences in the early years and Mayan influences after 600BC, and was a important commerce centre, mainly with Chocolá and Kaminal Juyú in what is now Guatemala City.

Tak'alik A'baj's sculptures may well have been used as exclusionary markers: Monuments 1 and 68, are both located on stream banks that would have been natural approaches to the site. Given the limited distribution of Middle Pre-Classic ceramics at the site, it is possible that the entire settlement lay within these boundaries. Other Middle Pre-Classic sculptures are found within this occupation zone, although all were reset in later times, which leaves us without further avenue for investigation of Middle Pre-Classic patterning of sculpture within the site.

Ancient Water supply still working

  According to  ceramic and stratigraphic analysis in recent excavations,  this site was reoccupied in the early postclassic, by  K´iche´  groups around 1000 AC, much earlier than the accepted K´iche´ expansion to the pacific lowlands, (1400 to 1450 AC).  

The site is located in El Asintal, Retalhuleu some 118.06 mi (190 km) from Guatemala City in a paved road about 3 hrs, driving, during witch you will enjoy the major Volcanoes of Guatemala.

It's Architecture shows 82 monumental structures, including an astronomical observatory, temples, terraces, etc. and 282 monuments known to date, including impressive stelas and altars. The materials used are granite stones much different from the lime stone used in the Petén cities. Aeveral burials with Ceramics, Obsidian and Jade objects have been found.

Stela 3

There is a museum and also a little Zoo with local species, you will enjoy visiting this site and learning about the hydraulics capabilities of the ancient Mayas as well as to take a glimpse of the early Olmec and Maya cultures and their differences. (See National Geographic Magazine, May 2004, page 14). You will need 3-4 hours to enjoy it, also the site has one of the few remaining natural forest in the Pacific coast region in Guatemala.  

The climate is hot and humid, but it is located near Retalhuleu city that has a lot of hotels with swimming pools and Air conditioned, the Pacific Ocean is a half hour away from there, and the Renown IRTRA Amusing parks of Xocomil and Xetulul are also very near, so plan 2 days in the area to enjoy all the different options there.  Perfect for the kids of all ages you don’t need to be in great shape to visit the area. 



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Last updated 28/01/2011 17:07:35 -0500
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