The 10 most impressive archaeological sites in Latin America

Iowa Archeology

Full text by En Viajes Magazine

The ten most impressive archaeological sites in Latin America, places that bear witness to ancient American cultures and the great empires of the early days.

1 – Machu Picchu. Peru: Archaeological Sites of Latin America Machu Picchu
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu. In Flickr Rocco Lucia.

Supposedly impressive Inca city built in the XV century over 2,360 meters above sea level, breathtaking landscape walls, terraces and ramps seem carved in the rock itself, immersed between majestic peaks of mountains, cliffs and greenery of the Amazon forest. According to assume it would have been both one of the vacation homes of Pachacutec (Inca Tawantinsuyu ninth, 1438-1470) as a religious shrine. Today considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, recreates through its temples, palaces and stairways, which was once the most magnificent building built by the Inca empire, comprising a large area of 530 meters long by 200 width comprising at least 172 compounds.

2 Uxmal. Mexico: Latinoamerica Uxmal Archeological Sites
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica Uxmal
Governor’s Palace at Uxmal. In Olivier Bruchez Flickr.

One of the most important archaeological sites of the Mayan culture with Chichen Itza and Tikal, supposedly founded in the seventh century during the classical period and since abandoned hundreds of years ago at the time of arrival of the conquerors. Today there are still significant monumental buildings that stand out for their size and decor, jewelry from the past such as the Pyramid of the Magician with a height of 35 m and the magnificent Governor’s House.

3 Chichen Itza. Mexico: Archaeological Sites of Chichen Itza Latinoamerica
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica Chichen Itza
Pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza. In the Tracks Alaskan Dude.

According presumably would have been founded by the Maya to the mid-sixth century, reaching its peak between 900 and 1500 AD period that would become the main center of power in the Yucatan Peninsula. Today considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World is demonstrating a monumental collection of ceremonial centers, temples and pyramids, among which its famous Pyramid of Kukulcan, majestic building 24 meters high, 365 steps and 9 platforms, where each Down the mystic equinox Serpent Kukulcan occurs.

4 Tikal. Guatemala: Latin American Tikal Archeological Sites
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica Tikal
Tikal. In MikeMurga Flickr.

Some capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya once would have been founded around the V century BC, reached its peak during the Classic Period, between 200 and 900 AD, dominating much of the region in the field political, economic and military. The architecture of the old town is built of limestone and includes remains of temples that tower over 70 meters, large royal palaces, in addition to a number of smaller pyramids, palaces, residences, administrative buildings, platforms and stone monuments.

5 Teotihuacán. Mexico: Latin American Teotihuacan Archaeological Sites
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan. In Flickr Crystian Cruz.

One of the most famous archaeological sites in America, supposedly built between III and VII centuries by civilizations of ethnic identity is not yet clarified and then the Aztecs dubbed as the “City of the Gods”. Today one of the most monumental complexes of the continent, given showing through as the majestic pyramids of the Sun and Moon, the spectacular urban layout of the Avenue of the Dead and a number of palaces and homes of famous people, the splendor ever reached, as one of the major power centers of Mesoamerica.

6 Palenque. Mexico: Latin American Palenque Archaeological Sites
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica Palenque
Palenque. In Martijn.Munneke Flickr.

It is believed to have been founded by the Maya around 100 BC predominantly as a farmer village, transforming between the seventh and tenth century AD in the capital of the region of B’akaal (zone of Chiapas and Tabasco), during which it would have made ​​alliances with Tikal, the other great Mayan city of the time. In its original splendor, today is only appreciable less than 10% of the total area reached the city, while remaining more than a thousand structures covered by jungle. Among its many fascinating remains characteristic temples for its detailed sculptural work, carvings and hieroglyphics are counted. Notably, this archaeological site is also home to the famous engraving known as the “astronaut”, originating from numerous theories and speculations about the Mayan connection with extraterrestrial beings.

7 Copan. Honduras: Latin American Copan Archaeological Sites
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica Copan
Ruins Tennis Fencing in Copan. In Adalberto.H.Vega Flickr.

While his early architectural structures dating from the ninth century BC, little is known about its origins until the city was refounded by a new dynasty linked to Tikal early V century AD. At this time he became a powerful city-state and a regional power in the southern Maya region magnificence that today allow recreate their large complex of pyramids, plazas and palaces. Among its highlights its particular concentration portrait stelae, which for centuries have decorated processional ways in the central plaza and the Acropolis.

8 – Easter Island. Chile: Archaeological sites Latinoamerica Easter Island
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica Isla de Pascua
Tongariki Ahu on Easter Island. In the Flickr of David Berkowitz.

Their first settlement have begun between V and XIX centuries AD by Rapa Nui, who have raised between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries giant stone sculptures known as moai representing their deceased ancestors, so that project their supernatural power over their descendants. Today his mysterious ancient culture survive about 600 moai distributed throughout the island, some around the original quarries and other ceremonial centers. Among them the most famous is for the Ahu Tongariki platform a hundred feet long on which fifteen moai of different periods and forms stand facing the bay.

9 – Jesuit Guaraní Missions. Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay: Archaeological Sites of Latin America Mission San Miguel
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica San Miguel de las Misiones
San Miguel Mission. Juan_m Flickr.

Founded in the seventeenth century by the Jesuit order in order to evangelize the Guarani Indians and related peoples. In total there were 30 of which seven are recognized to be considered today a World Heritage Site by UNESCO: San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana Our Lady, Our Lady of Loreto, Santa Maria Maggiore, Jesuit Mission Holy Trinity of Paraná, Jesuit Mission of Jesus of Tavarangue and San Miguel MissionPossibly San Miguel Mission in Brazil, is the most famous of them, immortalized in the film The Mission, manages to give witness through their ancient temple, central square and some houses virtually immersed in the jungle, a political and religious experience unique in history.

10 Cave of the Hands. Argentina: Archaeological sites Latinoamerica Hands Cave
Sitios Arqueologicos de Latinoamerica Cueva de las Manos
Hands Cave. MrHicks46 Flickr.

Located deep in the Pinturas River, corresponds to one of the oldest archaeological sites in artistic expressions of South America, a cave 24 meters deep in the walls of the Indians and their predecessors tehuelches plasmaron between 7350 BC and 600 A.D. a valuable collection of paintings. Among them the most famous are the famous “hand paintedSilhouettes in positive and negative of at least 829 hands, made with stencil art. In its symbolism little is known, assuming that they would have been part of a magical ritual.


11. Monte Verde, Chile: Monte Verde Archaeological site

Fundación Monte Verde Image

Monte Verde is an archaeological site in southern Chile, located near Puerto Montt, Southern Chile, which has been dated to 14,800 years BP. This dating adds to the evidence showing that the human settlement of the Americas pre-dates the Clovis culture by roughly 1,000 years. This contradicts the previously accepted “Clovis first” model which holds that settlement of the Americas began after 13,500 BP. The Monte Verde findings were initially dismissed by most of the scientific community, but in recent years the evidence has become more widely accepted in some archaeological circles, although vocal “Clovis First” advocates remain.


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