Who built (and who destroyed) the Pyramid of Las Flores? It was even used as a garbage dump.


It was through a series of investigations and preservation work that the public in the southern area of Tamaulipas and visitors from other regions of the country have the opportunity to appreciate the Pyramid of Las Flores in Tampico, one of the greatest icons of pre-Hispanic architecture in the town. But who built it, who “rediscovered” it and who lived in it?

In an interview with EL SOL DE TAMPICO, researcher and professor Josué Iván Picazo Baños offered a review of the history and other aspects surrounding this vestige, which despite the passage of years continues to be a source of research and work for professionals in the southern area of Tamaulipas, as well as other regions of the Huasteca.

The first sightings of the pyramid

According to the researcher, the first description of the mounds that existed in the area was made by an American named Jesse Walter Fewkes, who in 1906 was visiting the city.

“It was a hill that dominated the view of the Chairel and where Fewkes himself says he arrived after a walk from the tram terminal that he had boarded in the center of the city,” says Picazo Baños.

Within this description, eight mounds were mentioned that were in a space similar to a plaza.

It is worth mentioning that this first sighting occurred at a time when Tampico was modernized thanks to the support received in the Porfiriato.

“The railway lines already existed, the customs already existed, and it was a port that was growing and it is during these years that certain oil deposits had been discovered in the Huasteca region,” comments Josué Picazo.

Likewise, the point where these mounds were seen did not receive the name Las Flores until the 1920s.

Why was the Pyramid of Las Flores destroyed?

During these years, the American engineers Frederick Müelleried and John Muir made a larger descriptive plan in which about 22 mounds could be seen.

However, in 1925 most of these elevations of land were destroyed due to the construction of residences for foreigners and Mexicans who worked in the different oil companies in the town.

“The entire archaeological site was destroyed by machinery. These mounds were razed and the only one that survived was the one we know today as the Pyramid of Las Flores,” Picazo Baños shared.

In this context, the survival of the pyramid was due to the fact that the property was used as a garbage dump by the surrounding citizens.

Who populated this point of the Huasteca?

Once these sightings and first descriptions were made, it was up to Gordon F. Ekholm, archaeologist at the Museum of Natural History in New York, to be in charge of starting investigations into the Pyramid of Las Flores.

As part of the work, the researcher established that the construction of this vestige took place between the years 750 and 100 AD. approximately.

“Ekholm is the first to make a description of the objects found there and begins to link them chronologically with other types of finds from the Huasteca region and proposes a classification by period according to the characteristics of the objects,” says Josué Picazo.

Speaking about works that review various aspects of the history of Las Pirámide de Las Flores, the one carried out by archaeologist Gustavo A. Ramírez Castilla stands out.

He mentions that the residents who settled in the town of Las Flores were originally from the central area of our country.

“This vision is very interesting because although we traditionally associate the Pyramid of Las Flores with the Huastec culture, it was possibly a population group prior to the arrival of the settlers that we identify as Huastecs,” adds researcher Josué Picazo Baños.

Characteristics of the Pyramid of Las Flores

Gustavo Ramírez also explains that this monument has very particular characteristics, for example, that its structure was covered with sand and lime, being the result of the crushing of shells, oysters and other organisms that can be found in the bodies of water of the location.

Likewise, the mound that the public can see today is the result of various stages of construction. “That is, the initial mound was smaller and five subsequent stages of construction have been detected until reaching the one that remains today,” says Picazo Baños.

Other particularities of this vestige are the objects that were found around it, including molcajetes as well as the figure of a goddess that is on display at the Regional Museum of History of San Luis Potosí.

Burnt wood, crafts and ceramic remains are just other finds that were found around the pyramid, which may have served as a ceremonial center.

It is important to mention that since its discovery and restoration in the 1990s, archaeological investigations throughout Tamaulipas obtained great support from the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

In this context, in 1995 the INAH Tamaulipas would open its offices in the region which allowed new projects to be carried out throughout the entity, such as the Huasteca Culture Museum located in the Metropolitan Cultural Space of Tampico.

So, when in doubt about who discovered the Pyramid of Las Flores, we may never know who built it or the name of the person who saw it for the first time in this ‘new era’, but the history of this property that was even used as a garbage dump continues being fascinating.

Source: El Sol de Tampico