With a name referencing supernatural beings held to inhabit streams, El Chanal was inhabited largely in the 14th century, during the Postclassic Period. Among the visible structures are the foundations of ceremonial buildings, altars, a ball game square, and several houses. Artefacts recovered from the site suggest a link with the community at Tula.
A settlement covering 132 hectares, La Campaba still boasts evidence for a wide range of buildings both ceremonial and domestic, street plans, and a drainage system. Many petroglyphs can be found carved onto the stone patios and squares. The site reached its apogee in the Early Classic Period, between 100 and 600 AD. By the time Spanish colonists discovered it in the 16th century, it was known as ‘Almoloya’.
Located in the valley of Atemaj, the site at Ixtépete has a name meaning “obsidian hill.” Developing in the earlier part of the Classic Period, it reached its apogee in the Late Classic. Excavation suggests a highly hierarchical society existed at Ixtépete, with its neighbourhoods specialising in different activities, such as ceramic or lithic production. Folk celebrations to welcome in the spring still take place here to this day.
Arising in the Late Preclassic Period, Guachimontones – which is also known as Teuchitlán – survived through the following Classic Period. Its inhabitants were linked to what archaeologists term the Teuchitlán culture. Several noted pyramid structures exist at the site, built largely from basalt; these are distinctive for their circular bases and were dedicated to Ehécatl the wind god. Other features include a ball court and an amphitheatre. Artefacts are displayed at the site museum.
The settlement of El Grillo gives its name to the ‘El Grillo Phase,’ a term archaeologists use to describe a chronological period in the Atemajac Valley, which is where the site is located. Reaching its apogee between around 500 and 900 AD, during the Classic Period, it is known for housing a number of distinctive rectangular box tombs. The site’s name comes from its location on the former Rancho El Grillo.
The settlement of Ixtlán del Río, which is also known locally as Los Toriles, was key to the “Copper Route” during the Epiclassic and Postclassic periods. At least 14 groups of buildings can be found here, encompassing 93 mounds scattered over an area a little over 80 hectares. Among the noted architectural features is one of the few historic circular buildings in Mesoamerica and a range of petroglyphs carved into the rock.
Also known as Altavista, this petroglyph site is still an important ceremonial site for Huicholes. Covering an area of some 80 hectares over 2,000 engraved rocks have been recorded. A set of signs in both Spanish and English guide the visitors along the path, giving information and historical context. It is thought these engravings were made by Tecoxquin people who lived here around 4,000 years ago. Unattributed photograph on Wikipedia.