Tapachula's Soconusco Museum of Archeology, Chiapas, Mexico
Izapa Ruin Site view of the complex
called group F, constructed 1200 to
Tapachula's Soconusco Museum of Archeology display artifacts from other sites of the
Soconusco culture that settled along the Pacific Coast in an area rich in the production of
Izapa was the largest ancient settlement. The site displays Olmec influence during its
height from 600 BC to 300 BC.
The ancient site of Izapa was settled between 1500 to 1200 BC and sprawls over many
miles not far from the modern city of Tapachula.
Tapachula, Izapa Ruin Site:
The Izapa Ruin site in Tapachula Chiapas is an abandoned stone city first settled around 1500 BC
Some researchers see Izapa as the first homeland of the Olmec. Others see an influenced by the
Olmec culture through trade and migration. Olmec influence from 850 BC to 300 BC corresponds to
the most active building phases and to the organization of civic and religious systems that lead to
Izapa's high point in population, between 300 BC to 100 BC.
Izapa was the center of the Soconusco culture, cacao farmers who settled along the coastal plain and
river delta near what is the current border with Guatemala and the present day city of Tapachula in
Chiapas State, Mexico. By 200 AD Olmec influence ends at Izapa. The tree that bears the seed of
chocolate grows abundantly in the area. Chocolate was used as a means of exchange in ancient
Mesoamerica according to some researchers.
Mayan style art can be found at Izapa on the many stelae carved in low relief found at the site.
The settlement continued after th Olmec and Mayan artistic influence as an agricultural area growing
cacao but did not expand.
After the Olmec influence the local Soconusco cultural art dominated with influences from the Zapotec
and Mixtec. By 1200 AD the settlement was abandoned and the region came under domination by the
The three sites open today for visits are small remnants of a huge sprawling city that developed its own
unique style of art after the Olmec and Mayan influence ended. Sites at Tonala to the north have similar
Olmec art as does many small sites in the Tapachula area.
The complex was once a huge city but is now not much more than un-excavated mounds except for
The three groups have some unique stone carvings and glyphs, however, and one, a snake or frogs
head is made of magnetic stone with the animals snout polarized towards magnetic north.
The Archaeological Museum in the center of the city of Tapachula houses a great collection of ceramic
- Soconusco Cultural Museum
and stone artifacts from Izapa and the many smaller sites in the area.
The medium sized city of Tapachula, where lodging and night life are available, is situated 7 miles
northwest of the Izapa ruin site.
Tapachula is served by a major ADO, OCC, and Tica bus terminal. Colectivos headed for the ruin pass
by the terminal. The Talisman bound Colectivo (Talisman Bridge border crossing) makes many runs
throughout the day and will stop at the Izapa ruin site. See the white vans or combis.
To visit the Izapa ruin Site, catch the white collective taxis as they make runs in front of the bus terminal.
They run about every 15 minutes and cost about 8 pesos. They start near the market district in the
center of the city at a large terminal for Colectivos. The three Izapa sites are spread about a mile apart,
one near the main road, Group F, and two a mile distant at the end of a dirt road, group A and B.
Hotels, are plentiful in Tapachula near the lively center. (20-45 USD, 200 - 400 Pesos )
(Hotel Plaza Guizar, 200 pesos with air and cable, 01-962-62-6-24-88)
The ruin of Izapa,an ancient city with
Olmec influence through trade or
migration was settled in 1500 BC and
reached its peak from 600 BC to 300 BC.
The map right shows the extent of ancient
site as it spread over 200 hectares with an
estimated 10,000 people.
The area encompassing Izapa borders
present day Guatemala.
Three parts of the site are now open,
group F, Group A, and Group B, marked
in red on the map.
Modern roads now cut through the site
and join the three groups. Colectivo taxis
stop at the ruin on their way to and from
the Talisman border crossing and the
modern city of Tapachula.
Tapachula Archeology Museum displays examples of plumbate vessels, a ceramic so called
because of its shiny surface. The clay along the local river is rich in aluminum ore and this
coupled with a firing with reduced oxygen gives the ceramics their gloss. These were traded
throughout ancient Mexico from 600 to 900 AD.
A Mixtec artistic influence came to the area of Izapa after 1200 AD and is evident in the use of
metal and the application of turquoise, a style found in Oaxaca at Monte Alban's Tomb Seven
Mixtec burial. 1200-1400 AD
Olmec artistic style
Modern two-lane blacktop cuts through the ancient
site and connects Group F, the red triangular
shaped zone at the top with Group B, to the right,
and Group A in the center. (A&B are connected by a
Some researchers believe that the Olmec culture
started in Izapa and then spread north to Veracruz
while others see a spreading of the Olmec culture
from Veracruz to the Isthmus
Tapachula's Soconusco Museum of Archeology,
Chiapas, Mexico holds many artifacts that came
from the ruin of Izapa
Tapachula's ancient city with Olmec influence was
at its height from 600 BC to 300 BC. The area
borders present day Guatemala.
Tapachula's Soconusco Museum of Archeology in Chiapas displays artifacts that came
from the ruin of Izapa and other Soconusco sites along the Pacific Coast.
Tapachula's ancient city of Izapa had Olmec influence was at its height from 600 BC to
300 BC. The area borders present day Guatemala.
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The Museum of Archeology in
Tapachula, Chiapas, displays artifacts
from many local sites and those from the
ruin of Izapa, six miles from the town