Archaeology in Chiapa de Corzo

Many explorers have travelled throughout Mexico searching for ruins of early Mesoamerican civilizations and historical sites. A fascination with our early origins has led to many explorations. The belief that ancient Israelites and Christ himself visited the early Americas was one of many persistent theories in early archaeology. Many refused to believe that the Maya of the present were the descendants of such advanced civilizations.

In the 20th century Thomas Stuart Ferguson, a Mormon lawyer, was one of the first to launch archaeological explorations to search for proof of the LDS Church’s beliefs in Mexico’s southern region of Campeche. He founded the New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF) to help find some of the places described in the Book of Mormon. After many years of searching, Ferguson along with John Sorenson a master’s archaeology student from Brigham Young University (BYU), started searching for evidence from the Pre-Classic period. While flying over an underexplored region of Chiapas many mounds could be spotted below, leading to the discovery of a new site.

Chiapa de Corzo is a beautiful town in the highlands of Chiapas that features many Colonial period churches and monasteries. It has a rich history and culture. The fact that so many mounds lay buried for centuries is proof that there are many hidden treasures yet to be found in the state of Chiapas. The archaeological site discovered near the town bears its name and is the site of many surprises. In fact today it is near the Nestle factory.

Chiapa de Corzo is a Zoque site that borders the edges of the known Olmec and Maya civilizations. The foundation now supported by BYU’s Anthropology department has continued to further research and preserve artifacts from the ancient Mesoamerican world. The New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF) in conjunction with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) have worked together to excavate and preserve this historical site.

At this archaeological site, 3 Zoque pyramids and many artifacts have been discovered over the years. The excavation in 2008 to verify and update data with new archaeological techniques has brought to light more signs of Olmec influence among these Maya and Zoque in Chiapas. Many of the artifacts and tombs found here are from the Pre-Classic or Formative period.

In 2010, while excavating Mound # 11 in hopes of discovering its place in time, the archaeologists unearthed a tomb. This 2700 year ago crypt from the Middle Formative period is one of the oldest Mesoamerican pyramid tombs ever to be discovered. The man in the tomb was around 50 at the time of his death and by the artifacts placed with him, of some high status. Within this tomb there was evidence to connect this region with the Olmec of La Venta. Further emphasizing the breadth of the trade routes utilized by early Mesoamerican societies. The excavations in Chiapa de Corzo have only enriched the story of Mesoamerican origins and expanded their place in time.[1]