Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hormiguero -- Another Río Bec Site in Campeche

Author's note: sources differ as to the distance between Xpuhil and Hormiguero. Fodor's states the distance is 9 miles, while The Rough Guide to Cancun and the Yucatan: Includes the Maya Sites of Tabasco & Chiapas states it is a little over 13.5 miles.

South of the town of Xpujil in the southeastern area of the Mexican state of Campeche lies the site of Hormiguero (Spanish for "ant hill"), a community whose history lasted centuries. Architecturally speaking, this site lies within the Río Bec region and as might be expected, displays the Río Bec style of architecture.

Like Xpuhil, the history of Hormiguero spans the Preclassic Period all the way to the Postclassic Period, from 400 BC to 1100 AD. Its height occurred during the Late Classic Period and ended around the Terminal Classic Period from 600 AD until 800 AD. In terms of the age of the architecture, some of the site's oldest buildings date back to around 50 AD.

Its rediscovery occurred approximately 833 years later, in 1933. Its discoverers where John Dennison and Karl Ruppert of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. The pair were taking their second expedition to Campeche. Approximately 43 years later, the first excavation took place in 1979.

Name Meaning
And how did Hormiguero get its' modern name? There are two sources of inspiration. One source is the fact that looters have dug numerous tunnels through the site. The other source is the fact that there are large colonies of ants in the proximity of the site.

The buildings at Hormiguero, of which only two have been excavated as of 2011, are still in a good state and are organized into three groups: South Group, North Group and Central Group. Of note at the site are Estructura II (part of the South Group) and -- nearly 197 feet north of Estructura II -- Estructura V (located in the Central Group).

In terms of size, Estructura II is the site's largest structure. The approximately 164 foot long Estructura II possesses a facade that contains elaborate stonework decoration in good condition as well as a monster mouth doorway.

Moving on to Estructura V, this building that only has one room. However, on the outside it possesses a series of Chac (God B) masks on a pyramid that Fodor's Cancun and the Riviera Maya 2013 states are arranged in a cascade.

Consideration: Architectural Oddity
Though in the Río Bec style, Hormiguero's architecture possesses a notable feature that isn't found in the Río Bec style. The "temples" at the top of the pyramid towers -- unlike Río Bec pyramids -- can be walked into, instead of being solid stonework.

Hours of Operation
Like other sites such as Xpuhil, Sayil and Xlapak, Hormiguero is open to the public everyday from 8AM to 5PM. Unlike these sites however, it is free to get into the site. There are no buses that go there though.


"The Rough Guide to Cancun and the Yucatan: Includes the Maya Sites of Tabasco & Chiapas"; Zora O'Neill; 2011

"Fodor's Cancun, Cozumel & the Yucatan Peninsula 2008"; Fodor's; 2007

"Yucatan & Mayan Mexico"; Nick Rider; 2005

"Lonely Planet Mexico"; John Noble, Kate Armstrong, Ray Bartlett, Greg Benchwick; 2008

Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia: Zona Arqueológica Hormiguero

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