The Capital of the Early Mayan World on the South Coast of Guatemala
Guatemala- The ancient city of Tak'alik Ab'aj fulfilled for almost two millenniums, a rich and vigorous role in Mesoamerican history. The sculptured monuments buried there through the centuries, whose tops still emerge from the ground, gave way to the name, which in the K'iche' language means Standing Stone. This ancient metropolis is anchored on the fertile region of the South West Coast of Guatemala and its excellent geographical location at the natural pass way which connects the highlands to the coast and the strip to the entrance of the coast, besides being an important production zone of the esteemed cacao, had the adequate conditions to participate in the great long distance commercial routes and to generate the economic potential that allowed it to flourish as a great cosmopolitan cultural Center.
The National Archeological Park Tak'alik Ab'aj is an open book, where as you walk through its paths, you go over the lines written in the ancient buildings and hundreds of sculpted monuments that tell about the richness and cultural diversity of its extraordinary history. Extraordinary because it lasted 1700 years and it witnessed transcendental ages of the evolution of great Mesoamerican cultures, like the Olmec and Mayan. This ancient city had intense exchange with different and distant towns. Because of its strategic location it was an important enclave in the system of the great commercial routes along the entrance of the coast, between the coastal plain and the Central Highland during the Middle and Late Preclassic periods.
The interest and particular charm of Tak'alik Ab'aj over other places in Mesoamerica reside in the continuity of its development for many centuries. At the beginning of its history Tak'alik Ab'aj shared values with the Olmec culture and reached its apogee in the successive expansion of the early Mayan culture. The richness in sculptures and variety of styles, and the early development of the Mayan writing attest to this extraordinary history.
This ancient pre-Hispanic city, located at the entrance of the coast, is a cultural mirror where important events of the Mesoamerican history paraded by, like the hegemony of the Olmec culture in the Middle Preclassic (800 - 400 BC), which was followed by the appearance of the early Mayan culture during the Late Preclassic (400 BC - 150 AD). Tak'alik Ab'aj was one of the most important centers of intellectual, artistic and commercial development of this region and it is the place of birth of the early Mayan culture in the South Coast of Guatemala.
The Mayan culture appeared simultaneously in places very distant from each other, like in Tak'alik Ab'aj in the South Coast, in Kaminaljuyu in the central highlands, and not only in the lowlands in the north of Guatemala.
At the present time, this city continues being a sacred place for the different Indian groups, who perpetuate their rituals according to the days in their sacred calendars established centuries ago.
Now the site will have its own museum. The Museum is very appropriately named "The Spiral of Time"(El Caracol del Tiempo).
The city of light in the South Coast of Guatemala, Tak'alik Ab'aj, whose buildings and monuments can now be appreciated by everybody within the natural world of its native plants and animals, is going to have a museum with no equal to make room for its great history. This history, which is unique in the cultural pre-Hispanic world, gave way to the idea that the building of the museum should have the shape of a spiral: The Spiral of Time. The walk through the eras in the exhibition spaces is continuous and it follows the shape of a spiral that shall expand until our days, to welcome even more cultural expressions.
Published with the authorization of:
Christa Schieber de Lavarreda and Miguel Orrego Corzo
Ministry of Culture and Sports
Head Office of Cultural and Natural Heritage
Tak' Alik Ab' Aj National Project
NATIONAL ARCHEOLOGICAL PARK TAK' ALIK AB'AJ
El Asintal, Retalhuleu, Guatemala
Pictures property of: NATIONAL ARCHEOLOGICAL PARK TAK' ALIK AB'AJ