North America: Pyramids -, / Las Yacatas, Tzintzuntzan

PHOTO: sicorga66 1937'25.08" 10134'24.70"

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Tzintzuntzan was the ceremonial center of the pre-Columbian Tarascan state capital of the same name. The name comes from the P'urhépecha word Ts’intsuntsani, which means "place of hummingbirds". After being in Pátzcuaro for the first years of the Tarascan empire, power was consolidated in Tzintzuntzan in the mid 15th century. The Tzintzuntzan archeological site is mostly what was the ceremonial center. It is situated on a large artificial platform excavated into Yahuarato hill overlooking Lake Pátzcuaro from the northeast shore. The ceremonial center contains a large plaza and several buildings known to house priests and nobility but the main attraction is the five “yacatas” or semi-circular pyramids that face out over the lake area. This ceremonial center was called Taríaran or “House of the Wind.”The archeological site was also a defensive fortification as well as a religious center. Eventually, much of the site and especially its distinct five rounded pyramids called “yacatas” were destroyed and the city almost completely abandoned. Due to lack of interest in the old P’urhépecha dominion, excavation of this site did not begin until the 1930s. Its largest construction are the five yacata pyramids, which line up looking out over Lake Pátzcuaro.