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The Burnt Hill

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There is very little information about La Quemada, though archaeologists have entertained various theories, given the distance of this site from other pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican cities. It has been suggested this site could have been built by the Chicomostoc, Toltecs or Purepecha.

In 1615, Fray Juan de Torquemada speculated La Quemada was where the Aztecs passed through on their migration south, leaving their children and elderly behind. It was Francisco Javier Clavijero who, in 1780, proposed La Quemada was Chicomoztoc. He believed the Aztecs lived at La Quemada for nine years during their journey to the Valley of Mexico. Many believed this meant La Quemada was a mythical place called “The Seven Caves.”

In the 1980’s, archaeologists began excavations at La Quemada and decided the site was linked to Las Ventanas, El Ixtepete, Altos de Jalisco and north Guanajuato. A trade network extended from Zacatecas to Teotihuacan and the Valley of Mexico for commodities such as quills, peyote, shell, salt and various minerals.

Excavations at La Quemada have revealed the site dominated trade in the region between 700-1100 AD. Additional security measures included the construction of a wall nearly four meters high. Two staircases were removed to make the fortress more difficult to penetrate.

There is ample evidence that La Quemada was razed. Devoured by fire, La Quemada means “the burnt city.”