Mixco Viejo

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Mixco Viejo

Mixco Viejo was the Pocomam Maya capital in late prehistoric times, and later the Kaqchikel regional center from which the modern municipality of San Martín Jilotepeque was formed. The area came under the domination of Iximché in the late fifteenth century. Although the site might more appropriately be called Jilotepeque Viejo, the name Mixco Viejo is likely to persist.

The site is located approximately 38 miles by car north of Guatemala City in a spectacular setting overlooking the Motagua Valley in the present-day department of Chimaltenango. Its proximity to an important commercial route, the Motagua River, further attests to the city's significance. Like many other Late Postclassic period sites, it is on an easily defended plateau surrounded by deep ravines. Inhabited and flourishing at the time of the Spanish conquest, Jilotepeque Viejo fell in the 1520s only after a lengthy siege laid by Pedro de Alvarado, who then burned the city to the ground.

There are over ninety major structures at Mixco Viejo, residential and civic, built primarily from cut schist slabs. Within the four principal plaza groups are temples, altars, ball courts, and palace platforms. Archaeologists have worked at the site since the 1950s, and today much of the site is restored.

See alsoAlvarado y Mesía, Pedro de; Guatemala City; Kaqchikel; Maya, The.


John W. Fox, Quiché Conquest (1978), esp. pp. 203-210.

Henri Lehmann, Guide to the Ruins of Mixco Viejo, translated by Andrew McIntyre and Edwin Kuh (n.d.).

Additional Bibliography

Nance, C. Roger; Stephen L. Whittington; and Barbara E. Jones-Borg; with contributions by George Guillemin and Sergio Rodas Manrique. Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Iximché. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.

Paz Cárcamo, Guillermo. Chwa Nima Ab'äj: Mixco Viejo. Guatemala City: Editorial Cholsamaj, 2004.

                                        Janine Gasco