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Walking with Warriors and Royalty

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Nearly 1,000 years after the once-powerful central Mexican city of Cacaxtla was abandoned, would-be looters of the hilltop palace ruins came across fantastically well-preserved and still colorful murals painted in a somewhat puzzling Mayan style. Excavation continues today under an enormous protective shed roof. The Mural del Templo Rojo, pictured, adjoins a stairway leading to the Governor's Room. The huge nearby Mural de la Batalla, dating from 700 CE or earlier, is a grisly blood-and-guts depiction of a fierce battle between "jaguar" and "bird" warriors. The relatively un-touristed site is a short drive from Tlaxcala, slighting longer from Puebla. You come away from a slow stroll through the labyrinthine ruins with the feeling that centuries of mysterious history have seeped into your heart and bones.

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by Derk Richardson
AFAR Staff
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