Plazuelas is a ruined city that existed between 600 and 900 AD, during the Classic Period. The structures are scattered along three slopes which separate two ravines. Among the greatest buildings are several pyramid structures and platforms around a rectangular plaza and the large ball court. Plazuelas is also known for the thousands of rock carvings that are located along the banks of ravines and rock outcrops around the settlement.
Cañada de la Virgen was home to a community between the 6th and 11th centuries AD, in the Epiclassic and Early Postclassic Periods. It was subsequently abandoned and fell into ruin. Its inhabitants were probably members of the Otomí ethnic group, and many archaeologists believe that they had advanced astronomical knowledge that influenced their choice of architecture. Excavation only began comparatively recently – in the 1990s – and has revealed seven large structures.
Peralta was a settlement inhabited between 300 and 750 AD, in the Early Classic Period. Archaeologists continue to debate what the ethnicity of its inhabitants might have been. Architecturally, it is deemed one of the greatest urban areas in the El Bajío region, housing six of the eight known examples of mound and sunken patio layouts in this part of Mexico. Various artefacts are displayed at the site museum.
Taking its name from a Tarasco word meaning “the great way,” El Cóporo comprises a series of villages scattered around a central hill. The inhabitants of these communities lived from crops they grew, among them corn, pumpkin, amaranth, and tomatillo. Having established that the main period of occupation at El Cóporo was in the Late Classic and Early Postclassic Periods, archaeologists attribute its creators to what they call the Tunal Grande Tradition.
The Tamohi Archaeological Zone, which is also known as El Consuelo, stands on the right bank of the Tampaón River. Established during the final centuries of the pre-Hispanic era, it was one of the most important settlements linked to what archaeologists call the Huastec culture. To avoid river flooding, the buildings were built atop large platforms. The site was abandoned in the 16th century, amid the Spanish colonisation of Mexico.
Also known as “The Place of Water Clouds,” Tamtoc is a settlement built by members of what archaeologists call the Huasteca culture. Around 70 structures remain here, noted for their distinctive rounded corners. Several buildings, such as El Cubilete and El Tantoque, still stand tall. Tamtoc reached the apogee of its development between 900 and 1100 AD, during the Postclassic Period. Various spring rituals are conducted here by local communities.
Altavista was a ritual and astronomical center for people whom archaeologists refer to as members of the Chalchihuites culture. The site reached its apogee during the Classic Period of Mesoamerican archaeology. Altavista’s architecture displays specific alignments with surrounding landscape features that reveal more about its builders’ knowledge of astronomy, which they in turn used to assist their agricultural activities. Evidence for several stone structures survive at the site.
Located within the Juchipila Canyon, Las Ventanas combines residential housing with a civic ceremonial center. Excavation has revealed evidence of habitation as early as the first century AD although it only reached its most developed form in the Epiclassic and into the Postclassic Periods. The site takes its name, which means “The Windows,” from some of the windows of the cliff house here. Focused investigation began in the late 20th century.
Sometimes deemed the most important pre-Hispanic settlement in northern central Mexico, La Quemada began to develop around 350 AD, in the Early Classic Period. It reached its apogee between 600 and 850 AD, before being largely abandoned around 1150 AD. A capital that exerted control over a wide number of settlements around it, it included a range of impressive architectural structures, the ruins of which remain visible today.