Who owns Mexican archaeological sites and pyramids?

Mexican archaeological sites are primarily owned and managed by the government. The responsibility for the preservation, and protection of these sites falls under the jurisdiction of various governmental agencies and institutions.

The INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) is one of the key organizations overseeing archaeological sites in Mexico. However, not all archaeological sites are owned by the INAH.

INAH is responsible for the research, conservation, and management of the country’s cultural heritage.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History also works to ensure the proper maintenance and restoration of these sites while also making them accessible to the public for educational and cultural purposes.

The ownership and management of archaeological sites in Mexico can vary depending on their historical and cultural significance. INAH plays a central role in protecting and preserving Mexico’s cultural heritage.

If the land on which archaeological sites are located is owned by local communities or private individuals, the government collaborates with the owners to ensure the preservation and responsible management of these sites.

Many archaeological sites in Mexico are declared national monuments or cultural heritage sites, affording them legal government protection and oversight by federal and state authorities.

Also, UNESCO’s World Heritage program recognizes several Mexican archaeological sites as World Heritage Sites, further highlighting their global significance and encouraging international cooperation in their preservation.

Archaeological sites owned by INAH

  • Cacaxtla – Tlaxcala
  • Calakmul – Campeche
  • Cantona – Puebla
  • Casas Grandes – Chihuahua
  • Cempoala – Veracruz
  • Chichen Itza – Yucatán
  • Cholula – Puebla
  • Cuyuxquihui – Veracruz
  • El Cedral – Cozumel, Quintana Roo
  • Iximche – Guatemala (managed by INAH’s Guatemalan counterpart)
  • Las Labradas – Sinaloa
  • Mitla – Oaxaca
  • Monte Albán – Oaxaca
  • Palenque – Chiapas
  • Teotihuacán – State of Mexico
  • Tres Zapotes – Veracruz
  • Tulum – Quintana Roo
  • Tzintzuntzan – Michoacán
  • Xochicalco – Morelos

Archaeological sites partially managed by INAH

  • Altavista – Chihuahua (partially managed by INAH)
  • Bonampak – Chiapas (partially managed by INAH)
  • Chacchoben – Quintana Roo (partially managed by INAH)
  • Chalcatzingo – Morelos (partially managed by INAH)
  • Chinkultic – Chiapas (partially managed by INAH)
  • Coba – Quintana Roo (partially managed by the local ejido)
  • Cuetzalan – Puebla (partially managed by INAH)
  • Cueva de las Manos – Baja California Sur (natural caves with rock art)
  • Cuicuilco – Mexico City (partially managed by INAH)
  • Dzibilchaltun – Yucatán (partially managed by INAH)
  • Ek Balam – Yucatán (partially managed by INAH)
  • El Tajín – Veracruz (managed by the state of Veracruz)
  • Grutas de Cacahuamilpa – Guerrero (natural caves with archaeological significance)
  • Huamelulpan – Oaxaca (partially managed by INAH)
  • Izamal – Yucatán (partially managed by INAH)
  • Kabah – Yucatán (partially managed by INAH)
  • La Campana – Nayarit (managed by the state of Nayarit)
  • La Quemada – Zacatecas (partially managed by INAH)
  • La Venta – Tabasco (managed by the state of Tabasco)
  • Malinalco – State of Mexico (managed by the municipality of Malinalco)
  • Tamtoc – San Luis Potosí (partially managed by INAH)
  • Tehuacalco – Guerrero (partially managed by INAH)
  • Templo Mayor – Mexico City (partially managed by INAH)
  • Teotenango – State of Mexico (managed by the municipality of Tenango del Valle)
  • Tlatelolco – Mexico City (managed by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM)
  • Tlayacapan – Morelos (managed by the state of Morelos)
  • Toniná – Chiapas (partially managed by INAH)
  • Tzintzuntzan – Michoacán (managed by the state of Michoacán)
  • Uxmal – Yucatán (managed by the state of Yucatán)
  • Xel-Ha – Quintana Roo (privately owned eco-archaeological park)
  • Yagul – Oaxaca (partially managed by INAH)

Is it allowed to climb pyramids in Mexico?

Why INAH closed access to the pyramids to the public

Climbing pyramids is prohibited at archaeological sites exclusively owned and managed by the INAH. INAH places restrictions on climbing pyramids at these sites to protect the structures and ensure visitor safety.

What damages archaeological sites?

Human-caused impacts can be intentional or unintentional. Vandals and looters intentionally damage archeological sites and/or remove artifacts. Footsteps or hands brushing across rock faces can have unintentional impacts.

Preserving these ancient structures is crucial to their long-term survival and cultural significance.

Actually, climbing pyramids in Mexico is strictly prohibited at many archaeological sites across the country due to concerns about preserving these ancient structures and ensuring visitor safety.

These regulations are in place to preserve the historical and cultural significance of these ancient monuments. Visitors should adhere to these rules and respect the preservation efforts in place at these sites.

Regulations at archaeological sites may change over time, so it’s advisable to check with local authorities or guides for the most up-to-date information regarding climbing restrictions at specific sites.

The safety of visitors is another main reason why climbing the pyramids is prohibited. It helps prevent accidents and ensures that visitors can explore these cultural treasures in a safe and respectful way.

Selling property with ancient monuments

INAH takes legal action against the illegal sale of the Maya archaeological site on Facebook. INAH took legal action against the private sale of land that contains Maya monuments in the Mexican state of Yucatan.

The property, which was advertised on social media, consists of 249 hectares and contains the remains of ancient Maya structures within the Xkipche Archaeological Zone, a registered monument in the Archaeological Atlas of the state of Yucatán.

Xkipché is located in the Puuc region, around 9.5 km south-west of Uxmal.

The city was inhabited from the 6th until the 10th century AD and has 8 main concentrations of buildings, including a ceremonial center, residential structures, and a large structure referred to as the “palace”.

The present owners of the land posted an advert on a Facebook group, stating that the site is being sold as a ranch with 18 paddocks, and is located ten minutes from the archaeological zone of Uxmal and has pyramids.

They also stated that the land has been previously investigated by academic institutions between the years 1990 and 1997, and from 2002 to 2004 by archaeologists from Bonn University in Germany, working in collaboration with INAH.

The asking price was 18 million MXN (around 1 million USD).

The advert has made national headlines across Mexico, stating that the sale would leave a precedent, enabling private sales of archaeological sites for profit that could compromise the cultural heritage of the nation.

A criminal complaint will be filed against the owners of said land for commercialization of archaeological monuments.

Legal restrictions and implications

Mexican law allows private ownership of land that contains archaeological remains, however, all such remains are considered the property of the federal government according to the constitution.

This designation makes it impossible for these remains to be sold. According to the Mexican laws on cultural heritage, movable and immovable archaeological monuments are property of the nation, inalienable and imprescriptible.

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