15 January 2010
We visited the 8th century Mayan temple at Xochicalco, near Cuernavaca. Behind us is the magnificent Temple of the Feathered Serpent. The carvings on the side depict the different cultures that the Mayans knew about in the 4th century, including Asians. The Asians are depicted with beards, and a symbol indicating that they crossed the ocean to get there (a foot on the ground, separated by water & waves, and another foot on the other side of the water).
The name Xochicalco may be translated from Nahuatl as "in the (place of the) house of Flowers". The apogee of Xochicalco came after the fall of Teotihuacan and it has been speculated that Xochicalco may have played a part in the fall of the Teotihuacan empire.
The architecture and iconography of Xochicalco show affinities with Teotihuacan, the Maya area, and the Matlatzinca culture of the Toluca Valley. Today some residents of the nearby village of Cuentepec speak Nahuatl.
The main ceremonial center is atop an artificially leveled hill, with remains of residential structures, mostly unexcavated, on long terraces covering the slopes. The site was first occupied by 200 BC, but did not develop into an urban center until the Epiclassic period (A.D. 700 - 900). Nearly all the standing architecture at the site was built at this time. At its peak, the city may have had a population of up to 20,000 people.