San Miguel Before the Spanish

By Jon Sievert

Archaeologist Albert Coffee shares his insight into the history of San Miguel and the surrounding area, known as the Chichimec highlands, before the arrival of the Spanish, at this week’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Service.

UU Service
San Miguel Before the Spanish
By Albert Coffee
Sun, Jun 7, 10:30am
La Posada de la Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio 15

Coffee places special emphasis on the ancient El Bajío culture that built and occupied Cañada de la Virgen and other ceremonial centers throughout the area. Art, architecture, religion, and long distance trade will be addressed, as well as the connections to other cultural centers throughout Mesoamerica during the same time period. The Spanish first encountered the fierce fighting, semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers and pyramid builders known as the Chichimecs when they arrived, but the Chichimec was not the first or only cultural group to occupy the area. Before them there were the Chupícuaro, famous for their ceramic figurines depicting women with wide hips, geometric painted patterns, and cranial as well as dental deformation.

Coffee, who specializes in the cultures of ancient Mesoamerica, was invited to work alongside the official excavating team at the archaeological zone Cañada de la Virgen during the 2004 and 2005 field seasons. He was also contracted to conduct an investigation of the legends, wisdom, and memories of the elders of the ranch communities located in the areas around the site. He helped conduct archaeological surveys in the southern state of Oaxaca, where he was the director of a language center at a university near Puerto Escondido. He is married to a local sanmiguelense and has two children. Since the site’s opening to the public in 2011, he has taken more than 6,000 people on his tour of Cañada de la Virgen and other sites in the state of Guanajuato and throughout Mexico. He has also given numerous presentations and classes at schools and institutions in San Miguel.

The UU Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10:30am at La Posada de la Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15 and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Visitors are invited to attend the service and then join the UUs for coffee and snacks afterwards. The room is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit our website at


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