Decorated colorful skulls for sale on a street market in Mexico
Decorated colorful skulls for sale on a street market in Mexico

Cross the frontiers of time into lost pre-Columbian worlds in January 2020

One of our most popular expert scholars, Dr. William Saturno (known as Bill), is leading a tour to Central Mexico in early January and there are still spaces left for those of you interested in kicking off the new decade with an adventure to remember. 

In 2001, Bill discovered the remote archaeological site of San Bartolo and the oldest intact Maya murals found to date, while directing the San Bartolo Regional Archaeological Project. This project was dedicated to understanding San Bartolo’s role in this largely unexplored region during the period when the Maya civilization was forming. Bill's academic interests include the evolution of complex society (particularly among the ancient Maya) Mesoamerican religions, iconography, and also epigraphy, so he is the perfect guide for this 14-day exploration. 

Departing January 11th, 2020 | From $6,195pp

Central Mexico: Mesoamerican Mysteries

If you're looking for a momentous way to begin the new decade, why not treat yourself to a place on our tour of Central Mexico? Departing soon - on January 11th - you will trace the captivating stories of ancient civilizations, such as the Aztecs, Toltecs, Zapotecs and more, all in expert company.

Dr. Bill Saturno, pictured right, will take you from Mexico City to Teotihuacán, Poza Rica, Xalapa, Puebla, and Oaxaca in search of archaeological remains, stories and evidence of these fascinating histories. 

Upon arrival into Mexico City, you'll visit the National Museum of Anthropology, which is home to captivating exhibits on the monolithic Stone of The Sun – thought to be a 16th century Aztec calendar – and also on the Olmec Heads. From here, you'll take a drive out to the pyramid site at Tyla, where you'll walk among the giant basalt figures (shown right) that represent the plumed serpent god, Quetzalcóatl, especially linked to Tyla and one of the primary deities in the ancient Mesoamerican pantheon. Before Day 4 comes to an end, you'll also discover the history of the Templo Mayor site.

In Teotihuacán, we explore the magnificent site and follow its main street, the "Avenue of the Dead". Here, we find three incredible structures - the Temple of Quatezalcóatl (the Plumed Serpent), the great Pyramid of the Sun (the world’s third largest pyramid), and the smaller Pyramid of the Moon. The latter two boast amazing views once their summits have been reached. Originally an abandoned city stumbled upon by the Aztecs, Teotihuacán at its peak became the largest and most influential city in the pre-Columbian Americas, thriving for about 700 years until between 300 and 600 CE.

Later in the tour, we enjoy a scenic drive east to the state of Veracruz and the imposing jungle ruins of El Tajín, the long-abandoned city of the Totonac people. The temples, palaces, ball-courts, and pyramids of this sacred “City of the Thunder God” embody a distinctive architecture characterized by elaborately carved reliefs on columns and friezes. We also sit down to watch a performance of the amazing "Voladores de Papantla", we explore the ruins at Cantona, and we discover the unusual site of Cacaxtla, whose vividly-painted murals depicting military life over 1,300 years ago are among the best-preserved of their kind from the pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican world. 

Finally, when we arrive at Oaxaca, we visit Monte Albán, which, for almost a thousand years until its mysterious decline, was the socio-political center of the Zapotec world. Today its extensive array of hilltop ruins puts Monte Albán among Mexico’s most prominent archaeological sites. We also tour Yagul, one of just four locations named as Natural Monuments by the Mexican government and occupied from around 500 CE until the arrival of the Spanish. Highlights include several multi-chambered tombs, a beautiful “juego de pelota” ball-court, and the stunning views from the hilltop fortress ruins. So, all that's left to do is book a place on this magnificent tour. 

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Cross the frontiers of time into lost pre-Columbian worlds in January 2020 was published on December 13 2019