When: January 2 – 12, 2020
Cost: $3,195 ($325 single supplement)
Join us in Villahermosa, Mexico for an exciting look at the Olmec, Totonac, Huastec, Aztec and Spanish cultures that have dominated the region for thousands of years.
Nestled in a tropical paradise, lost cities, unique architecture, and archaeological sites that defy current cultural classification await our arrival. Joining us will be Dr. Jeff Blomster, a leading scholar on the cultures of Mesoamerica at George Washington University.
Thursday, January 2
Join us for a welcome reception in Villahermosa.
Friday, January 3 B, L
In Villahermosa, we’ll visit the Parque-Museo La Venta, a magnificent outdoor sculpture garden that displays some of La Venta’s most significant artifacts. We’ll then explore the archaeological site of La Venta, located about 75 miles east of Villahermosa, which was built by the Olmecs prior to 600 BC. We’ll spend the night at the Holiday Inn in Coatzacoalcos on the beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Saturday, January 4 B, L
We’ll tour the Olmec center of San Lorenzo, which dominated the region from 1200 to 900 B.C. and was first excavated by Matthew Stirling in 1945. We’ll spend the night at the Hotel la Finca along the shore of Lake Catemaco.
Sunday, January 5 B, L
We’ll visit the museum at Santiago Tuxtla. Then we’ll visit Tres Zapotes, where the first Olmec colossal heads were discovered in 1869. Without an archaeological context to classify these unusual stone carvings, there was much speculation in the late 1800s about an African origin. Archaeologist Matthew Stirling’s pioneering work in 1939 demonstrated that Tres Zapotes was occupied from about 500 B.C. until A.D. 200, at the end of the Olmec period and into the transition period from Olmec to Maya. We’ll spend the next two nights at the Camino Real Boca del Rio on the beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Veracruz.
Monday, January 6 B, L
We’ll explore the city of Veracruz, founded in the early 1500s after Hernán Cortés landed at Villa Rica just north of the city. We’ll also visit the Castillo de San Juan de Ulúa, a massive Spanish defensive fort constructed beginning in the 1530s.
Tuesday, January 7 B, L
In the morning we’ll travel north of Veracruz to see La Antigua, the original site of the city of Veracruz. Then we’ll visit Villa Rica, the probable landing site of Cortés in 1519. In the afternoon we’ll visit the Xalapa museum, which contains the world’s best Olmec artifact collection. We’ll spend the next two evenings in Xalapa.
Wednesday, January 8 B, L
We’ll travel to Cantona, which was occupied from 100 B.C. With a population of 40,000, Cantona flourished following the collapse of Teotihuacán, and may have affected Teotihuacán’s access to the Gulf Coast. The site contains 24 ballcourts and almost 3,000 residential terraces.
Thursday, January 9 B, L
We’ll explore Zempoala, a Totonac site dating from A.D. 1000 where we’ll view a cluster of pyramids and unusual circular structures. We’ll also visit Quiahuiztlan, a Totonac site with Toltec-style features dating to around A.D. 1300. We’ll spend two evenings in the bustling commercial center of Poza Rica.
Friday, January 10 B, L
We’ll visit El Tajín, the famous Totonac capital occupied between A.D. 500 and 1200. Containing 17 ballcourts and a number of pyramids and structures, the early constructions feature distinctive Teotihuacán-style influences that include frets, scrolls, and images of Quetzalcoatl.
Saturday, January 11 B, L
We’ll visit the Late-Huastec/Post-Classic Castillo de Teayo, constructed around A.D. 1300 and occupied until historic times. We’ll spend the night at the Camino Real Boca del Rio in Veracruz
Sunday, January 12 B
Participants depart for home from Veracruz.
Cost includes hotel accommodations based on double occupancy (single supplement is $325), meals as indicated, happy hours, admittance fees, tips, tours, background reading, airport transportation and surface travel via air-conditioned bus. Not included are meals other than those indicated and transportation to Villahermosa and from Veracruz. A modest amount of walking is required. Ruins have rubble, undeveloped trails, and steep stone stairs.
To join us on this tour, or for further information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (505) 266-1540.
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