Tzintzuntzan, meaning the place of hummingbirds, is an archaeological site located about 17 kilometers from Patzcuaro in Mexico. The site was the political, cultural, and economic capital of the Purepecha civilization between 1325 and 1520s AD. The area consists of five rounded pyramid-like structures called yácatas.
Tzintzuntzan was the capital of the second-largest empire in Mesoamerica during the pre-Columbian period.
The Purepecha civilization existed in the present-day Mexican state of Michoacán, as well as parts of Guanajuato and Jalisco. The civilization was contemporary to the Aztecs and was actually the second-largest empire in Mesoamerica at that time. The Purepecha people left no written record behind; nevertheless, a Franciscan priest named Fray Jeronimo de Acalá brought their culture into light through his work, illustrated Relación de Michoacán, written in 1540.
According to the text, the founder of the civilization was a hero called Tariácuri, who gathered different peoples around Lake Pátzcuaro under a centralized state around 1325. Nonetheless, the Purepecha people probably started to dominate the region as early as 1000 AD. The civilization eventually fell after the Spanish conquest of Tzintzuntzan in the 1520s.
The excavations began around these pyramids in the 1930s and have been able to cover only %35 of the site. The pyramids were built with stone and decorated with carvings. There is also evidence that these pyramids were painted red once. Furthermore, the archaeologists estimate that there were wooden buildings on top of the pyramids to perform ceremonies such as human sacrifices. During these ceremonies, the king represented the main god Curicaueri, ensuring that the fire kept burning. Additionally, huge bonfires would be lit here following a decision to go to war, warning all 91 settlements in the Lake Pátzcuaro Basin.