Archeological Park “El Puente” (The Bridge)
El Puente is located in the Valle de Florida, in the municipality of La Jigua, 11 km north of the Honduran town of La Entrada, and 2 km north of the convergence of the Chamelecón and Chinamito Rivers.
The site is the main attraction of an archaeological zone in the Department of Copán, Honduras. It was at one time an independent Mayan city. Between the sixth and ninth centuries it became a dependent tributary of Copán. The site contains more than 200 structures consisting of tombs, ceremonial buildings and rooms, only few of which have been excavated.
Jens Yde made the description and publication of the site in 1935. The archaeologist mapped the site, but did not excavate it. The site location was declared a National Cultural Heritage of the Nation in March of 1989. Later, in 1991, the first excavations began with the intention of creating a second archaeological park after the one located in Copán Ruinas. The Archaeological Park El Puente and its museum were inaugurated in 1994.
El Puente seems to have been founded towards the middle of the sixth century AD which coincides with the Early Classic Mesoamerican Mayan chronology. The architectural and ceramic similarities of El Puente and Copán Ruinas indicate that the site was developed to control commercial routes that converged in the region. Although independent during a period, the city maintained a close alliance with the great political and administrative center of Copán Ruinas.
Once the collapse of Copan occurred in the Classical Period (between 850- and 950 AD), it seems that El Puente remained, and even received, immigrants from Copan.
El Puente contains about 210 structures and the core of the site consists of 5 squares. Only nine structures have been excavated and restored, while important portions of the site have been damaged and looted. A noted divergence from traditional Mayan architecture is observed. For example, there is no criterion of symmetry that is typical of Mayan architecture throughout the site. In some buildings the stairs offer different dimensions on each side, and the quality of the construction of the same structure differs from one place to another. Also, the quality of work on the stone may differ significantly from one building to another and even within the same building. The squares have a well-designed drainage system for the removal of rainwater and some of the channels built for this purpose remain functional.
There are several tombs and burials that have been excavated, some of which contained offerings of jade and decorated pottery. Obsidian objects were also found in some of these burial sites. Green obsidian of Pachuca, a state of Hidalgo, Mexico, has been found giving an idea of the distances once traveled by the commercial chains.
The highest structures of the place reach a height of 12 meters. Excavations into their associated tunnels and further surroundings have exhibited a great amount of ceramics, fragments of burned maize, and beans.