Monday, December 15, 2014

Ruins of Tamtoc

President Jordan had never seen the Tamtoc ruins and even though we knew they would be officially closed since it is Monday, he decided to drive over there.  The drive itself was interesting and once we turned off the main road, it was 8 miles of back roads but every gate (and there were many) was opened.  We saw scattered houses and cowboys on their horses.  We saw the beautiful green countryside and had to stop once while a backhoe leveled a patch of fill-dirt on the road.  We waited and went on and arrived at the main gate which was open. 

 President Jordan went inside and found a guide willing to take us around the ruins. We can see at least "two tender" mercies here--we were allowed to enter the ruins plus rain was predicted but it couldn't have been a more beautiful day.


The area of the ruins is a mile square and a lot of it is beautiful grass.  The guide said that the land here is flat and anything not flat is man-made.  Keep that in mind--we did.  We visited a few areas before we walked to the astronomy tower
 and learned that these ruins (city) were started in about 600 B.C. 
The man-made astronomy tower from a distance

The astronomy tower with the original stairs on the right.
We asked how the tower was built and the guide said the people would haul dirt from a surrounding area.  That dirt was removed strategically so they could also make a reservoir as they went since moving by boats was a faster method of communication. The dirt was piled about a foot deep and the people had an all night dance stomping the dirt and compacting it.  They then built fires on the compacted dirt, which is mostly clay, and the fires baked the flat top into a ceramic layer.  Later, the people would haul more dirt and put it on top of the newly formed ceramic layer and begin the cycle again.  The astronomy tower was placed strategically to line up with the setting sunlight coming through a gap in the mountains several miles away.  
Zoom in, and behind the darker mountains are lighter mountains and there is a gap in the lighter mountains a little right of center.  On December 23 the sun sets in the gap indicating the shortest day of the year--from that information, they figure out their calendar for the rest of the year. The gap and this tower line up perfectly with the first ruins we went to farther east where they also used shadows of a corner of their tower to mark the seasons in their calendar year.  We asked our guide how long it took too make the tower, thinking it could have taken years, and he said it could have taken generations.  
view from the tower

another view

our guide

all of us on top of the astronomy tower.

The humps below show where anciently the priests and their family were buried
 Below is a calendar divided into 13 months of 28 days each and was found face down in the water and it took a lot of man power to get it upright and displayed properly

 They built the retaining walls behind us to keep the dirt out while they got that huge calendar up.

 Keep in mind that anything not flat is man-made.


This snake moved very quickly probably because we were there and the hawks above were circling around it.  It is about 7 feet long and poisonous.




Below is an overview of the ancient city center with the remaining foundations indicating the location of all of it's administration buildings. 








video

We returned to the pavilion and the Jordans had kindly brought our picnic lunch and we ate in the shelter of a pavilion with running water and flush toilets before we departed.  The Watkins headed to Huejuta and the rest of us returned to Tampico.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time away from our cement city.

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