Tazumal or El Tazumal is the ruins of the Maya complex in Chalchuapa, Santa Ana Department, El Salvador, as the ancient city of Mesoamerica in the southern Chalchuapa archaeological zone which was first unearthed and restored by archaeologist Stanley Boggs in the 1940s and 1950s. Tazumal is an urban area in the Classic to Postclassic period and has links to central Mexico on the northern Yucatán Peninsula and lower Central America.

Metal artefacts point to the 8th century AD as one of the earliest metallic artifacts reported from Mesoamerica. Tazumal is located inside the valley Río Paz where the ruins at an altitude of 720 meters (2,360 ft) of it since the Preclassic period undertook a massive construction activity.

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Construction projects halted between Late Preclassic and Early Classic stalled by the Ilopango volcano eruption about 75 kilometers (47 miles) east of the city. The eruption caused a hiatus in Tazumal that may have lasted several generations. Activities continued during Early to Middle Classic (c AD 250-650), although never to the level of Preclassic activity.

Tazumal has an important relationship with other Mayan cities including Kaminaljuyu in the Valley of Guatemala to expand the influence of Teotihuacan city in the center of Mexico's strong Pacific coastal region of Guatemala and El Salvador. Tazumal also has a relationship with Copán in Honduras that is visible from architecture, sculpture and ceramics.

Ceramics in Tazumal have a number of Early Classic features associated with Chichen Itza on the northern Yucatán Peninsula and Tula in central Mexico. Tazumal coexists with Nahua-speaking Pipil from the Classic to 1200 AD The influence of Pipil may be due to trade. Tazumal began to be abandoned in 1200 AD where the population shifted westward to the center which is now the modern city of Chalchuapa.


All of the buildings in the Tazumal complex face west and have a Mesoamerican balcourt. B1-1 is the main structure in the Tazumal group and dominates the complex. The pyramids undergo various construction phases during the Classic and Early Postclassic period. This structure is built on a basalt platform measuring 73x87 meters (240x285 feet).

A 30-meter (98 ft) platform runs north-south along the western facade of the pyramid and platforms of the same length extending east-west along the north side of the structure. The remains of a 4x3 meter (13.1x9,8 ft) platform on the east side.

The site has a cylindrical ceramic with a polychrome bowl placed on top like a cover. Two large jade pieces and 50 small jade pieces, a piece of shell and a slice of snail shells, various pieces of animal bones, mica, and red pigment traces. The offering was covered with stone slabs. Silindris decorated two panels, each containing a character wearing headdresses and performing autosacrifice.

Temple of the Columns is a platform to the west of Structure B1-1. Orientation to the west and standing on the west side of the main pyramid may have functioned as the main facade. This structure has a square column and two identical rooms separated by a space with two columns. The north room has an entrance on the east side with the possibility of an additional entrance on the south side.

The B1-2 structure is dated to the Late Classic and is located on the southwest of the main pyramid B1-1. The pyramid faces west on three levels above the basal platform in the architectural style of talud-tablero, measuring 25x25 meters (82x82 ft) and a height of about 6.8 meters (22 feet). In October 2004 the southern side of the pyramid collapsed by the roots of trees and water.

The structure of B1-2 undergoes four construction phases where the earliest phase has a height of 4.7 meters (15 feet), the second construction phase adds the third and fourth levels added to the pyramid to 6.5 meters (21 feet), the third construction phase adds a level five, the fourth and final construction phase has been severely damaged by collapse in 2004.

Other buildings include Structure B1-3 and Structure B1-4 are two structures that make up the ballcourt that has a mortar floor of an I-shaped ballcourt. The structure of B1-8 is a circular platform originating from the Late Classic period.


Tomb 1 has a depth of 20 cm (7.9 inches) below the first and second level balustrade Structure B1-2. The tomb consists of the lower jaw, several other bones, ceramic fragments and some obsidian artifacts. The funeral may be a dedicated human sacrifice of the final phase of the pyramid.

Tomb 2 under the western façade Structure B1-2 containing skull, long bones, ribs, jaw and spine. Teeth show are children, accompanied by pieces of ceramic and some ash which refer Late Classic to Early Postclassic between 770 to 1000 AD.


Chacmool sculpture from Classic to Early Postclassic. The works of jaguar and anthropomorphic sculptures depict the central Mexican deity of Xipe Totec. These artifacts are styled central Mexico and the northern Yucatán Peninsula. One of the raw chacmool sculptures is placed at the Museo Nacional de Antropología in San Salvador and the other has become private property.

Metal work

Three gold ornaments show contact with Central America. Some contemporary metal artifacts from Tazumal are among the earliest metal artefacts of Mesoamerica. These items are found from the Late Classic tomb and as a commodity traded from Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

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Location: Chalchuapa, Santa Ana Department, El Salvador

Routes and public transport: Flights to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Luis Talpa, then drive to San Salvador for 40 kilometers, then drive to Chalchuapa for 73 kilometers.