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Museo Arqueológico – Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum of Mazatlán, located in a charming late 19th-century Porfirian mansion, has been showcasing the rich pre-Hispanic heritage of the Sinaloa region since its inauguration in 1989.

Initially managed by the Government of Sinaloa, the museum’s oversight transitioned to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in 1998. Continuous enhancements have since been made to improve the visitor experience, enrich the collection, and provide more comprehensive exhibits.

The museum houses a robust collection of around 300 artifacts, distributed across four permanent exhibition halls. These exhibits highlight the intricate ceramics of the region, featuring predominantly red, black, and cream-colored pottery.

Particularly notable are the clay human figures, which provide a glimpse into the attire and ornaments of the pre-Hispanic inhabitants. Additionally, the collection includes stone malacates and axes, clay pipes, and obsidian arrows and knives.

The museum also emphasizes the region’s funerary customs and the traditional ballgame known as ulama, with a special focus on a funerary urn containing multiple skeletons symbolizing a return to the womb of Mother Earth and the finely crafted Aztatlán codex vessels, likely originating from present-day Sinaloa.

One of the standout pieces is a ceramic representation of a warrior or priest, prepared for a ritual with a shield and horns, symbols of power in pre-Hispanic Mexico.

Temporary exhibitions are also a significant aspect of the museum, featuring photography, painting, sculpture, and loaned pieces from other collections. This versatility in exhibitions allows for a dynamic and continually evolving display that keeps the museum experience fresh and engaging.

The creation of the museum was largely driven by the efforts of historian and journalist José C. Valadés, whose initiative to endow Mazatlán with a historical and archaeological museum is evident in the impressive collection.

This collection includes important donations, such as those from painter Carmen Parra, which comprise pieces from the shaft tombs of Nayarit and Jalisco, the Comala tradition of Colima, the Tarascan Plateau, the coastal plain of Veracruz, and even artifacts from Teotihuacán and Tenochtitlan.

The museum’s collection is further enriched by discoveries from the Northwestern Archaeological Zone established in 1966 under archaeologist Héctor Gálvez C. His team’s studies unearthed significant archaeological findings in sites across Sinaloa and Nayarit, including Mezcales, Villa Unión, Siqueiros, El Walamo, Chametla, Escuinapa, San Felipe, Tecuala, Las Varas, and Centispac.

One of the notable artifacts from these excavations is a tripod vessel depicting a figure with a face covered in the skin of a sacrificed individual, likely representing the deity Tlazoltéotl, associated with fertility and sexuality, as suggested by the specific style of the ear spools and headdress.

The Archaeological Museum of Mazatlán thus serves as a vital repository of the region’s ancient cultural heritage, offering visitors a comprehensive and immersive glimpse into the pre-Hispanic past of Sinaloa.

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