Posted 6 January, 2014 by Stuart Torres in Heritage


General Information

LOCATION: municipality Amates, Izabal department.
HOURS: 8:00 – 16:30 (Lunes a Domingo)
COLLECTION OF INCOME: According to Government Agreement 282-2007
FOREIGN: Q 80.00

Important Information Site

GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION: North Latitude coordinates 15 ° 16'23 .4'' and Longitude West 89 ° 02'31 .1'', to a height of 75 m above sea level of the Atlantic Ocean.
TEMPORADALIDAD: Classic City (250 d. C. to the 900 d. C.)
HUMANITY: 31 October 1981.

Rediscovery YEAR: 1841, when John Stephens made the first description of the site and published the first drawings by Frederick Catherwood contrails E and F in his book "Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan ".

Description of the City:

This protected area has a thirty-four acres (34 has) which have not been altered since 1910, when the United Fruit Company, owner of a large tract of land for banana cultivation, declares this as a reserve area, where still preserved a remnant of subtropical wet forest, which serves as a refuge for many species of flora and fauna of the region (Figure 2).

The archaeological site of Quirigua was a small center of the Classic period Maya Lowlands located in southeastern Guatemala. Founded in 426 d. C as a port of trade due to its strategic location on the north bank of the Rio Motagua, which allowed its residents direct access to various products and goods such as obsidian exchange, Quetzal feathers, basalt and access to sources of jadeite and commercial connections or networks that the river offered from the Highlands of Guatemala to the Caribbean coast.

The importance of Quirigua cultural level is that despite being a small center which does not have a monumental architecture, has one of the larger spaces in the Maya area, and the most impressive sculpture, with the highest sculpted monument (Estela E) has been registered to date in Mesoamerica.

That is why the 31 October 1981 UNESCO, Quirigua awarded the category of Cultural Heritage of Humanity, taking into account the following criteria:

  1. Represent a unique artistic or aesthetic achievement, a masterpiece of human creative genius.
  2. Have exerted great influence, over a span of time or within a cultural area of ​​the world given, in the fields of architecture, monumental arts, urban planning and landscape design.
  3. Being an outstanding example of a type of structure that illustrates a significant period of history. Copan shared with the domain of trade routes and control in raw material supplies (jade y obsidiana) in preparing ceremonial items. The archaeological site is comprised of the Gran Plaza, Acropolis, Square Ball, This Group, South Group and an exceptional collection of sculpted monuments (stelae, zoomorphic altars).

La Gran Plaza is comprised of the monuments sculpted low-rise platforms that limit public space. The Acropolis of Quirigua is a set of palace type buildings that possibly functioned as administrative or residential premises that are distributed around a central courtyard. One of the oldest buildings of the Acropolis constitute the building 1B-2 and 1B-6. 1A-11 The building was also built during the Late Classic Period, and corresponds to a stepped Mayan pyramid. Peripheral settlements east and south, belongs to the Late Classic, and corresponds to the low height elongated platforms, which probably housed a family close to the nobility.


Possibly Copan Quirigua Mayan city established, which was under his control around 300 years old, in order to control the important trade route of the Motagua River in Guatemala and trade connections between the Northern Lowlands and Southern Lowlands.

The first inhabitants of Early Classic Quirigua (250 – 600 d.C.), possibly originated from the center of El Petén and because the founding house of Copan had close alliances with Tikal. The cities of the Classic Period Lowland is characterized by the consolidation of a well-defined urban layout process by causeways, pyramidal temples revolve around a central core or square, starts using the concept of the city-states and used the emblem glyph symbol of independence of each city.

The first buildings of Quirigua (450–725 d.C.) are modest in scale and consisted of buildings and platforms made with river rocks, compacted sediments filled with pebbles and mud. During the Early Classic construction techniques were improving, system was adopted for wall and roof construction, the encajuelado, technique to build upon the foundations and the use of stucco. It was located east of the Acropolis in previous substructure, burial probably the founder of Quirigua (Building 1B-6), is believed that this was a place chosen to place tombs and shrines of the founders, as in Tikal and other cities of the Lowlands.

The inclination of the Maya by regular and frequent renewals expansions of buildings led to the rulers of Quirigua, constantly rebuild their city. At the end of the Early Classic Overflow Motagua River hit the city and there is a hiatus, later flowering brand new to the city.

The Ruler 5 Quirigua was represented as a vassal of the Ruler 12 Imix Humo de Copán, on Altar L, conmemorando of fin de katún. This shift in power is crucial in the history of both cities, since in the year 724 d.C., ascends to the position as the new lord of Quirigua K'ak 'Tiliw Chan Yopaat, under the authority of the Ruler 13 Copan, Waxaklajuun Ub'aah K'awiil. This is how, during the Late Classic Period, after 35 year reign, Year 736 d.C., K'ak 'Tiliw Chan Yopaat, formed an alliance with the king of Calakmul, to defeat the city of Copan and was until 738 d.C. when the ruler of Quirigua rebelled capturing and sacrificing the ruler of Copan, possibly in order to control the trade route of the Motagua. El gobernante victorioso K'ak 'Tiliw Chan Yopaat, peak led the city of Quirigua, with the construction of new palaces in the South Acropolis and impressive public spaces including the Grand Place to the North, which was probably used for trade and to commemorate their achievements, it was embellished with impressive stelae, zoomorphic altars.

The last ruler of Quirigua, fue identified as Cielo Jade, who ascended the throne in 810 d.C. During his reign two monuments were carved (I stelae, K) and carried out the reconstruction of the Acropolis, 1B-1 building on the south side and 1B-5 in the North. The building inscription 1B-1 tells a commemoration apparent final katun 810 d.C., where the ruling involved 16 Copan, Yax Pasaj y Cielo Jade. This indicates that apparently depended Quirigua again Copan dynasty.

In 1798, John Payes bought some land on the banks of river Motagua, where he discovered the ruins. The American archaeologist John L. Stephens and Catherwood English were the first to visit and explore the city in ruins.

Son John Stephens publications that motivate the English Alfred Maudslay, to perform several seasons of work at the site between 1881 a 1884, regarded as the first scientific research conducted in Quirigua. During this time the most significant works of Maudslay concentrate on cleaning and moss vegetation covering the monuments with the aim of documenting by preparing drawings, paper rubbings, and high-quality photos (Maudslay 1889: 1-6).

Subsequently between 1910 a 1933, the School of American Archaeology and the Carnegie Institution of Washington, perform various archaeological research among which the work of 1933, those who were in charge of Earl Morris and Gustav Stromsvik who focused on lifting and placing of concrete bases contrails E, H, I y J, which had collapsed years ago, Likewise some monuments placed vertically and perform slightly inclined excavations at the base of them in search of offerings or hiding, discovering zoomorphic altars O and P (Morley, 1936: 6-16).

However, these early works only focused on documentation of monuments and placing these in place, but did not consider the protection of themselves and that they continued to weathering and damage subject natural and human agents.

It is not until mid 70 when the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania began a research project in Quirigua between 1975 a 1979. Time in which takes up new actions for the protection of monuments, as was the application of various chemicals to remove fungi covering the monuments (Hale 1983: 102-109) and placing the first metal stranded, to prevent touching or frayed public monuments as had happened in the past, however they lacked ceiling.

Thanks to Quirigua Project Museum of the University of Pennsylvania investigated the main group and surrounding settlements between 1974-1979 in collaboration with the IDAHE. Then archaeological research conducted by Robert J. Sharer in the years of 1983-1990.

In 1989 studies were conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank, but no relevance to restore and preserve the same. In years 1993-2007 Matthew Looper conducted intensive studies related to Maya epigraphy.

Through Government Agreement 673-2003 the 13 October 2003, protection area Quirigua Archaeological Park was transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Sports.


Hale Jr., Mason E. 1983 Control of biological growths of the mayan archaeological ruins of Quiriguá, Guatemala, In Paper. 11. In: Quirigua Reports: II Papers 6- 15. The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. General Editor Robert Sharer, Volume Editor Edward M. Schortman.
Maudslay Alfred 1889 Biology Central-American. Volume V (Text). London and Dulau & Co. Soho Square, The. Edited by F. Ducane Godman and Osbert Salvin.
Morley, Sylvanus G. 1936 Guide to the Ruins of Quirigua. Institución Carnegie de Washington. Wasghington D.C. The. 1-218. Stephens, John L 1841
SOURCE: Information Brochure "Quirigua, City Wakes ". S COLUMBIAN AND COLONIAL

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Stuart Torres