Discovering The Indigenous Cultures of Mexico


Mexico is culturally one of the richest countries in the world.  The ancient cultures of Mexico have given us a remarkable heritage.  I love to lear about the indigenous cultures of Mexico can’t seem to get enough stories and facts about their world, habits, findings and lifestyle.

I’ve heard about the Xihuacan Museum and pyramid at the Soledad de Maciel Archaeological Site in Petatlán, a small town near Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, but never had the chance to visit in person, until now.  Capella Ixtapa Personal Assistant Andrés was kind enough to organize a tour for me, and I couldn’t wait to experience it in person!

The tour guide explained that the first inhabitants in the Soledad de Maciel area were the Nahuas in the Pre Classic period (2500 BC to 200 AD).  Some of the most important Mesoamerican civilizations were of Nahua ethnicity, including the Toltec and Aztec cultures, as well as the Tepaneca, Acolhua, Tlaxcaltec, Xochimilca, and many others.  Today there are approximately 600,000 indigenous people living in Guerrero, which is about 20% of the total population of the state.  When visiting Ixtapa Zihuatanejo and close by towns, pay attention to the language spoken by locals – it is very common to hear native languages spoken on the street.  I was amazed to hear that there are more than 20 different native languages spoken in the area, but the principal one spoken is Náhuatl.

Archaeologists believe that the Soledad de Maciel area reached its peak during the Epiclassic period (650-900 AD).  During that time, the site was supposedly one of the largest and most important ceremonial centers of agricultural and religious rites and was a regional seat of power.  Besides the pyramid, which is being excavated at the moment, they also discovered a ball game court, along with other Pre-hispanic monuments, and items that you can see at the Xihuacan Museum.  The museum currently showcases more than 800 Pre-hispanic pieces, such as figurines, obsidian vases, works in shell, copper axes, bell necklaces and ceramics.  Among the most remarkable ancient objects is a large, circular stone carved with the name of “Xihuacan” which is the native Náhuatl word for the geographical area of Petatlán during the Pre-hispanic period.


The archeological site is fairly new and the excavations aren’t finished yet, but nevertheless, I find it amazing that part of the history of this amazing culture lays so close to my town.  There is so much more to learn about the Nahuas and indigenous cultures of Mexico, and I will be returning to the site to learn more soon!

Xihuacan Site Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  There is no cost for entry.  For more information and tours please contact Capella Ixtapa Personal Assistant at

Photos by: Margaret Reid