Los Toriles Archaeological Site
Los Toriles is a minor site that was once linked to other communities in nearby Ixtlán, in Nayarit state. There is evidence of contact with groups in central and northern Mexico, and a Toltec influence as well. The stony site is dotted with nopal cactuses and mesquite and acacia trees.
Surrounded by dry hills, Los Toriles consists of 90 mounds, remains of structures placed around plazas or in groups. Structure M-78, a rare circular temple built in three consecutive stages and with cross-shaped window openings, is dedicated to the god Ehecatl Quetzalcoatl.
Although settled as early as AD 400, this community reached its high point in the Early Post-Classic era, between AD 900 and 1300. Buildings seem to have been added to over the years, indicating that the site was adapted and enlarged to fit the needs of a growing population.
Unlike the Maya and the Zapotecs, for example, the pre-Hispanic indigenous cultures of mid-Pacific Mexico left few if any monumental buildings to give modern scholars clues to their civilization. Much of the evidence we have is not in the form of great pyramids or palaces, but in artifacts recovered from the culture's typical shaft tombs.
Consisting of several chambers at the bottom of a shaft sunk deep into the earth, a Western Mexico shaft tomb typically contains a wealth of clay figures associated with the ritual of death. Unfortunately, a number of Los Toriles' shaft tombs were looted during the three field seasons when the site was explored and restored, beginning in 1947. Presumably many of their treasures were hauled off by the robbers. At least one tomb can be visited, but it not found in the principal part of the site, but near the parking lot.
Enclosed in glass cases, several well-preserved statuettes greet visitors as they enter Los Toriles. Beyond, a series of small stone platforms have been restored. Each aligned in either an east-west or north-south direction served as altars to the gods. Their stone facings were originally decorated with religious and animal motifs.
More correctly known as Sitio Arqueológico de Ixtlán, this is not a major site, but worth a visit to lovers of archaeology and out of the way places.