Juluchuca has a rich and lengthy history. Pottery shards found on the property tell us that people lived here at least 1200 years ago. The peopleinhabiting the Costa Grande, or the region around Juluchuca, were called the Cihuatecas. While little is known about these people, it is likely that they were influenced by both Olmec and Mayan civilizations, and later the Aztecs.
It was at one time thought that Juluchuca was a hamlet or subsidiary community in the fiefdom of Petatlan, or of another fiefdom to the south. The earthworks and ruins on our site indicate that Juluchuca was actually the center for both of these major settlements.
Nested between the mouths of two converging watersheds, and at the coastal interface between the Sierras and the Pacific Ocean, there was a rich diversity of species and habitats, ranging from the coast all the way up to the divide of the watershed. These freshwater sources have served as a beacon to migrating creatures for millennia—both winged and legged. Moreover, this land is positioned along an early human migration corridor and, later, the trade route between North America and South America
This land has a specific spatial and directional relationship to sacred mountains and other early Meso-American sites. Structures created in alignment with the existing landform appear to reference the site's relationship to solar and lunar celestial events. The lake is the center of the site, and bears an astronomical and spatial relationship to the surrounding terraced knolls as well as the large vertical granite stone to the west and the pyramid to the east.
The Aztec civilization flourished for nearly two hundred years (1345-1521). The Aztecs built huge cities, formed complicated government systems, and had an elaborate set of religious traditions that abandoned the personal connection to the forest that had been so sacred to the Olmecs and Mayans. The Aztecs revered their gods above all else. Prayer was in integral part of their everyday life and human sacrifice to the gods was a regular event, with the annual related death toll numbering in the thousands. The old pagonistic relationship to nature was largely replaced by a more abstract idea of religion.
Much of Aztec life revolved around farming, which sustained the growing population and formed the basis for their economy. The Aztecs completely replaced slash-and-burn practices with annual agriculture techniques, and designed complex irrigation and fertilization systems. They built terraces on hills and chinampas (floating gardens) over otherwise implantable swampland. These innovations allowed the Aztecs to build a vast and densely-populated empire.
During their rule, Central Mexico became the most densely populated region on Earth. This density, coupled with land use strategies, led to significant deforestation. Not unlike modern times, the power of the civilization's technologies enabled unsustainable growth.
At the time of the Aztecs, the name for Juluchuca was Xolochiuhyan. Its icon was the head of an old man with thin, wiry white hair. The literal translation for Xolochiuhyan was "the place to grow wrinkles"—an idiom for the place to grow old—remarkable in a time when warfare and disease limited the average life expectancy to just 37 years.
The Spanish first entered the Aztec empire in April of 1519, and the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan surrendered just over two years later. The density of the Aztec population allowed foreign diseases to spread through its empire like wildfire. Within ten years of contact, disease decimated the native population to less than four percent of what it had been at its peak. Almost no records survive the empire; the Spanish burned nearly every fig bark paper document or codice they found.
After European contact through the early part of the 20th century, the entire site appears to have been largely uninhabited. During this period of 400 years, the coastal forests in all of Guerrero regenerated, as did local plants and animals. During this period, the town of Juluchuca appears to have been little more than a watering hole along the road between Ixtapa and Acapulco.
The Land Reform Movement of the early 20th century divided the state of Gurrero into tracts that were designated to families and communities. In the late 1930s, the federal government decreed that the land was subject to reassignment if it was not used "productively." In response to this mandate, there was a push to replace the natural forests with coconut palm plantations. Virtually the entire coastal plane was reduced from rich deciduous and semideciduous tropical forests to a simple monoculture. Cattle was introduced to the area at rates that favored toward short-term return over sustainable ranching practices. During this period, mangroves were aggressively harvested for fuel, construction materials, and fencing posts.
The coconut groves were maintained in a productive state by constant physical labor and grazing pressure for a few decades. When the coconut market collapsed, the groves were abandoned and many of the trees died from neglect or were cut for timber. We are working to regenerate an area that sustained life and community for so many hundreds of years.