On our way to Pátzcuaro, we stopped at Tzintzuntzan on the banks of Lake Pátzcuaro for two purposes: to see the ancient city of Tzintzuntzan and to look at the handicrafts of modern Tzintzuntzan.
When the Spanish arrived, Tzintzuntzan was the capital of the Tarascan state. It had a population of 100,000 -- most of the people living in the area of modern Tzintzuntzan. The political and religious functions were on the hill above the main settlement.
Not much of the political center remains today. The Spanish took some of the stone to build their own buildings. The elements handled the rest. Like most sites, only a portion has been uncovered and restored.
The center sits atop a large stepped wall. On top of that are five yacatas (platforms) that once housed a temple. The current structures were built on older structures. After all, the city grew for over three centuries.
Several pots have been found on site that have Inca markings -- and the P’urhépecha language is very similar to the language of South American Indians.
The generally-accepted anthropological theory is that the P’urhépecha and the Inca traded with one another. But, there is a more eccentric theory -- that the P’urhépecha are actually Incas who migrated north.
When it was restored, archaeologists found thousands of human bones in the structure. The building probably served the same the same function as similar public buildings in the Aztec and Maya civilizations -- public or ritual display of the remains of enemies of the state.
I was impressed with the site. But our visit here was the first time during this series of bus trips that I disliked being on a tour. When Islagringo and I took our road trip through the Maya sites, we stayed as long at each as we both wanted. On a bus tour, I could not do that.
I would like to return to Tzintzuntzan and spend more time examining the site. Thinking through the implications of the Peru connection.
And then I would like to drive over to another P’urhépecha site -- Ihuatzio -- about five miles away.
But that will have to wait for another day. As will our visit to modern Tzintzuntzan.