Teuchtitlán-Guachimontones Archaeological Zone
2008 World Monuments Watch
The Teuchtitlán-Guachimontones site and the valleys surrounding it are the core of a recently discovered and little-known Mesoamerican cultural tradition. The influence of this culture, which was actively involved in trade with other groups across Mexico, extended over 2,000 sites covering most of the western part of the country. An important characteristic of the tradition was its new approach to urban planning, featuring a distinctive, monumental architectural style that included concentric circular plazas, and pyramidal platforms, houses, and temples. Guachimontones features one of the largest ball courts in northern Mesoamerica, as well as the only known example of a Mesoamerican amphitheater. Located in the seismically active Tequila region of Jalisco state, the site is in the manufacturing epicenter of the eponymous liquor. Fueled by worldwide demand for tequila, the expansion of agave production is a threat to the archaeological site. In 2006, UNESCO declared the Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila a World Heritage Site, and although the archaeological monuments of the Teuchitlán culture are included in the declaration, the tequila industry has tended to interpret the designation as sanctioning the expansion of tequila-producing areas, perhaps even at the expense of the area's archaeological sites. If action is not taken, the site could be destroyed before archaeologists have a chance to study this early and unusual culture.