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Ojo Zarco A New Archaeological Site Project in the Works

By Jesús Aguado

At the rural community of Ojo Zarco, there are the pyramidal vestiges of an extinct culture that was situated in the upper area of the Laja River.

The site has a pyramidal structure 14 meters high with a base that goes from 20-40 meters in the lateral areas. It also has sunken gardens and a lateral platform that, according to hypothesis, was the meeting point for people. It could also have been a place for trading products that was used as a market place.

Although the archaological site is located on private property, it evidently belongs to the nation. Moreover, the owners are most interested in recovering the site under the normativity of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), so it can be open to the public and improve the life of people living in rural communities near Dolores Hidalgo, where there are no basic services and there is no employment for people. It could also improve the life of people in communities that belong to San Miguel.

Ojo Zarco

This is a property of 75 hectares, situated on the border separating San Miguel and Dolores Hidalgo. It is a space that was populated 50 years ago with oaks and holm oaks, but it was devastated due to the coal boom. The current owner purchased the land in 1998, when the place was eroded and the bush vegetation was minimal, so the tree species could no longer grow. That is why the owners reforested the zone with native bushes and all kinds of trees and cactuses. Currently there are artificial lakes—some of them with crystalline waters—that are now home to Canadian ducks, pelicans, herons, and wild birds; tilapia and carp were introduced in the lakes. The archaological site is located in this interesting land that, according to Don Claudio Mayer Guala, was one of the most important in the region. That fact needs to be scientifically proven, and in a short time an evaluation project will be performed in the area, paid for by the government of Dolores Hidalgo. Those involved in this project are also hoping that they can get municipal resources from the local administration.

The top of the mountain of Ojo Zarco is situated at 2,110 meters above sea level. From there is a 360 degree view to San Miguel and Dolores. At the top of the mountain, there is a holy cross dating from 1891 that is celebrated every May 3 by the natives, and it is also crowned by three- and four-meter-wide pre-Hispanic fences made of stones. Mayer commented that it has been proven that they were used as protection during wars.

There is also a clear view to mountains that have a religious meaning for the old cultures: Cerro de Culiacán  and El Pico del Águila. There is also a straight view to Cañada de la Virgen. According to Mayer, it is easy to think that there was communication between these two sites through signals of the time. This area could date from the 5th or 10th century and was formed after the fall of Teotihuacán.

The monuments zone

This was an uninhabitable and ceremonial site. There is now information and interpretations of the site on a document from an investigation conducted by archeologists Rossana Quiroz Ennis and Luis Felipe Nieto Gamiño. The archeological zone was identified and registered by the INAH in the early 90s, but they never worked on it until the area was purchased by the new owners, and they got interested in the history of the site. Currently it is known that in the monument zone, there is a 14-meter-high pyramid that has a base with a lateral 15 meters long and the three others going from 30 to 40 meters. In front of the pyramid is a 20 meter-long, 10 meter-wide sunken garden. A passage leads to a second sunken garden. The passage becomes narrower and ends with a two meter hollow with a diameter of 15 meters. In the zone there are more passages, rectangular rooms, platforms, sunken gardens, and mounds of stones.

It is a work that will take time

The evaluation project of the Ojo Zarco site, commented Mayer, has been approved by the INAH, and it will consist of specialized studies in order to know what the importance of the area is. “It has it, but it needs to be scientifically proved.” After that it will be easier to get the public or private financial resources for restoring it and opening it to allow people to know the history of the place and its people. The cost (1.3 million pesos) of the project will be sponsored by the local government of Dolores Hidalgo. The evaluation process will consist of the cleaning of the surface of the archeological site and collecting pieces—tiles, stones, rustic tools, and other cultural objects—and samples in the place to know the reality of that past. After the analysis of the pieces, it will be easy to establish a relation between this site and others discovered in the last three decades in the northern area of the state, as well as its relations with the surrounding area.


The idea is that of launching an archaeo-ecological park

Mayer commented that the idea is, of course, recovering the archaeological site but also working on a project for preserving the nature in the area. “We want to have a sustainable project,” he said. He also remarked that supporters of the project need a lot of time, plus human and financial resources, to make it happen. The good news is that in the long term it would bring an economic benefit for the people who live in the communities nearby: La Caja, Ojo Zarco, La Cieneguilla, and others. These people have been forgotten by the governmental authorities and do not even have basic services.

This site has been visited by people from the Americas and from Europe. The invitation for visiting and getting involved in what the owners are doing is open to the general public, nonprofit organizations, and even those interested in experimenting with trees.

Contact Claudio Mayer at Ferretería Don Pedro on Ancha de San Antonio or call 152 1714.


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