In Search Of Mayan Ruins Inside Chiapas
The first of two parts

March 1, 2018

Chiapas, the most southern state in Mexico, has some of the most significant Mayan ruins in all of Mexico. We use the word Mayan, or Maya, loosely as it is meant to cover all the indigenous peoples who have lived in this area prior to the Spanish arriving.

These people include the Mixtex, Zopotex, Toltec and Olmex, in addition to dozens of other groups of inhabitants who lived here since the start of mankind in MesoAmerica. At one time, we read that there were 27 different languages spoken in this area — not including Spanish.

Most of the ruins which have been found are from 100 to 600 AD when Europe was under Roman rule or in its Dark Ages. The Maya people were very advanced having reached a high degree in math, astrology and medications for various ailments.

Some of the ruins of the Maya people have only been unearthed recently and there is reason to believe much is still covered in thick overgrowth. In our travels, we only skim the surface in what is an abundance of archaeological treasures.

Starting in the capital city, Tuxtla Gutierrez, and then San Cristobal, we went on to explore the city of Comitan (only 100 miles from the border of Gutemala, and the ruins at Tenam which were uncovered in 1925.) Our focus, however, has been the ruins of Palenque — the Mayan city which at one time was believed to have controlled most of what is now Chiapas, as well as the state of Tabasco, and south to Guatemala.

These ruins have been explored by the Spanish as early as the 16 century, but some of the most significant finds have been only in the past 70 years when explorers learned to translate the language, and found the tomb of King Pakal, who was buried around 683 AD.

At the age of 80, King Pakal and his kingdom at Palenque controlled the trade routes heading in every direction from South America to present day Mexico.

For every site of ruins, there are several museums and it has taken a lot of research on the computer to know just where these ruins fit into the history of Chiapas and Mexico.

Chiapas has not always wanted to be a part of Mexico, and the indigenous people have revolted against their treatment controlled by the government. The people of Chiapas have called themselves a Free State of Chiapas, and have been forced to remain under central government rule more than once when their leaders were arrested, or in one case murdered.

The size of the cities in Chiapas are not large by American standards. The largest, Tuxtla Gutierrez, is over 600,000 people, and San Cristabol is over 150,000, with others nearly that size.

Chiapas features many mountains, and a coastline which reaches the length of the state.

It is cooler than most of Mexico, and has a good tourist trade which increases as the drug problems in the country are being handled.

Chiapas is considered one of the safe states, and there is not a large police force visable within the cities.

To be continued …

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