Cantona (archaeological site in Puebla, Mexico) #WeVisitMexico

The Puebla Tweetup #WeVisitMexico press trip was pretty magical in many ways. The group of international travel writers I came with to visit Puebla were all incredibly sweet and we got along famously. It will be hard to match this trip with any other, as I definitely think this ranks up high as one of the best press trips I have been in. Lucky for me, and for my fellow travel writers, I happen to love archaeology and history, and it was a delight to have an opportunity to showcase Mexico to my new friends from the perspective of a Mexican national with international experience who lives in Canada (and feels as Canadian as they come).

Cantona Archaeological Site (Cantona, Puebla)

I am always lucky that every press trip I have includes local architecture, history and in this case, archaeology. We visited a rather unexplored side of Mexican history by visiting Cantona, an archaeological site located about 94 km from the city of Puebla. From the Spanish-language Wikipedia entry on Cantona, I gathered that Cantona was considered one of the cities with the highest degree of urbanization in the pre-Hispanic epoch. While ethnic composition details are sparse, most scholars seem to agree that Cantona was probably founded by Olmeca-xicalanca groups towards the end of the late pre-classic period.

Cantona Archaeological Site (Cantona, Puebla)

Cantona is considered to have reached its peak around the Mesoamerican epi-classic period, characterized by Teotihuacan’s loss of stronghold over political and commercial power. Small regional centers became central nodes for cross-regional commerce, and Cantona was one of these centers. Conflicting opinions on how much of the site has actually been excavated and revealed range from 1-10% of the total actual site surface (around 14 square kilometers).

Cantona Archaeological Site (Cantona, Puebla)

Ball games (juegos de pelota) were very popular, apparently, with about 24 ballcourts accounted for throughout the entire Cantona site. From the English-language Wikipedia entry on Cantona, it appears that Cantona’s main economic activity focused on obsidian, a rather coveted material used to produce weapons, cooking utensils and other various artifacts. In recent epochs, obsidian has been used to manufacture fine pieces of jewellery.

Cantona Archaeological Site (Cantona, Puebla)

We were given a guide tour of the site, and learned first-hand about how well designed this city was (I wish current city planners were as smart as the Olmeca of this era were!). I immediately noticed a very smart city layout, and was delighted by how Cantona gives the visitor an opportunity to imagine what living in this era would have been. Instead of just focusing on the major worship sites and centres of political power (usually done in Teotihuacan), Cantona’s city layout enables you to view the overall city in context.

Cantona Archaeological Site (Cantona, Puebla)

Arriving to Cantona is a bit difficult if you don’t have a car, but you can get a taxi/tour operator for $500 Mexican pesos (about $35-40 USD), round trip. This price, as you can see, is pretty inexpensive. You may want to pack a lunch if you visit Cantona, but I would also recommend LOTS of sunscreen (SPF 60 or higher), comfortable travel/walking shoes, lots of water and enough memory in your SD card to store the many photos you will want to take.

Cantona Archaeological Site (Cantona, Puebla)

You can check some additional links on Cantona here, here, on the wonderful blog of Rebecca Smith (All About Puebla), here, on Mexico Desconocido (Unknown Mexico), here too, and here.

Cantona Archaeological Site (Cantona, Puebla)

I can guarantee that visiting Cantona will be an extraordinary experience. I had a blast, and I think so did my fellow travel writers!

Cantona Archaeological Site (Cantona, Puebla)


Disclosure: My trip to Puebla, sponsored by the Mexico Tourism Board, includes transportation, activities and meals. However, my posts are written in my own words and everything I write is entirely my own opinions. Any out-of-pocket expenses are paid out of my own dime. As always, anything that I post on my site is entirely my responsibility and I retain full editorial control.

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Comments (5)

Mardi@eatlivetravelwriteJune 25th, 2012 at 7:13 am

Nice post Raul! I feel like such a slacker not having written anything on the trip home but it was a bit chaotic and I actually had no “down time” to write except on the plane when I was so exhausted from running around IAH for 3 hours that I fell asleep. What a lovely memory you brought back over my morning coffee today! So great to meet you and we’ll keep in touch!
Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite recently posted..On following recipes….

All About PueblaJune 25th, 2012 at 7:26 am

Great post, Raul — and thanks for the mention! It was lovely to meet you, and I’m delighted that the We Visit Mexico crew took you to Cantona. It’s a truly exceptional archaeological site.

Traveling TedJune 25th, 2012 at 9:58 am

Great post and interesting information you provided on the history and the culture of the people who created this interesting civilization. I love the group picture.

It was a great group, and I miss the people and the city terribly today.

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