While Cancun is well known for its incredible Mayan ruins, did you know that Banderas Bay is also home to some significant archaeological sites as well? The popular tourist destinations of Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are located in Banderas Bay. Banderas Bay has several important archaeological sites that are estimated to have existed during the years from 200 to 900 AC. Keep reading below to learn more about these lesser-known ruins that are scattered throughout Banderas Bay.

Pre-Hispanic Cultures

To start with, an archaeological feature known as a “tumba de tiro” was discovered near Punta Mita’s Four Seasons Hotel on the northern edge of Banderas Bay. Known as pit tombs in English, the ruins also included human remains, ceramics, and utensils from the Classic period. Based on these discoveries, archaeologists believe the area was inhabited between the years 200 AC to 900 AC. Also, it is believed that around 100 thousand people occupied a great ancient civilization in the area. This was well before the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s.

Pit Tombs – What Are They?

Pit tombs refer to a set of interconnected cultural features that have been discovered in other parts of Mexico. Pit tombs have been found in Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima, Michoacán, Sinaloa, and Zacatecas. Pit tombs sites are believed to be traditional burial grounds of pre-Hispanic cultures that inhabited the western part of Mexico. The Pit tombs consist of a well that is between 2 to 20 meters deep and is either circular or rectangular in form. In addition, one or more burial chambers that contain the corpse and offerings are found on either side of the tomb. Also, multiple burial chambers are inter-connected to one another via small tunnels. There, ceremonial elements used during the burial have been found. After the burial ceremony, the ground shot would be filled with dirt so that no trace of the tombs remained. Many historians believe that the variations between the tombs were due to both the social category of the person who was buried. As far as time frames go, carbon dating of similar Pit tombs shows that they were used as early as 200 to 300 BC.

Image from INAH.gob.mx

111 Archaeological Ruins in the Area

Another area in the state of Jalisco has interesting ancient remains, too. So far, the most important discovery was a complex that included a ball game court and a 10-meter high pyramid. These ruins were discovered underneath a school and a soccer field in the Ixtapa area, about 5 minutes inland from the coast. Archaeologist Joseph B. Mountjoy has been exploring and excavating sites in the Banderas Bay region since the 1980s. Mountjoy states that there are at least 111 important archaeological sites along the coast of Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. In addition, local writer and archaeologist Gustavo Espinal from San Juan de Abajo has studied the area extensively. One day, he hopes to build a community museum in his hometown to display the many artifacts that have been collected over the years.

Opportunity for Tourism

Also, Espinal has been quoted saying that “Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit have a large amount of cultural and historical resources because of the large amount of pre-Hispanic vestiges that abound in the region.” There is an opportunity for tourism in the area that has not been taken advantage of. The majority of the sites are in areas that are now developed, unlike archaeological sites in the Riviera Maya that are isolated and located away from modern construction. However, sites in the Banderas Bay area have been overtaken by modern buildings and developments. Despite this, there is still a chance of working with the community to preserve the rich cultural history of the area. Both Gustavo and Mountjoy hope that the local government will recognize the importance of protecting the area’s archaeological ruins. However, proper protection is put in place to safeguard the ancient remains, the possibility exists that looters will extract these priceless artifacts to sell them on the black market.

Did you know that Banderas Bay has ancient ruins? Now that you know, how can you help to protect these hidden cultural gems for future generations to enjoy? Are you ready to visit Mexico to enjoy the beauty and rich heritage? If so, call Today Getaway at 1-866-435-8007 or 619-558-0432. Today Getaway works with top resorts like the Villa Group Resorts and has affordable vacation packages not found anywhere else. Ready to pamper yourself and your family? If so, call Today Getaway at 1-866-435-8007 or 619-558-0432. Their professional call center reps are waiting for your call right now.