The amount of archeology under Guatemala City, left unexamined while cars drive above and at risk of destruction when developers begin to dig, staggered me. That said, compared to other grand archeological sites we had visited, at first glance Kaminaljuyu seemed underwhelming, to say the least. Located in the middle of Guatemala City, my first impression was of a fenced enclosure surrounding an empty field of scruffy grass and the occasional flowering shrub.
What you can’t see is what matters
Actually, Kaminaljuyu is vast. We could see only a tiny fraction of this buried archeological site having a temple the same dimensions as the ancient Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. When I became aware of the tremendous implications the site holds for understanding the history of Mesoamerica, it was hard not to bewail the city’s real estate development on top of most of it.
Incidentally, we discovered another idiosyncrasy of our tour guide today (and honestly, we weren’t looking for more). He is fascinated by the large concrete outdoor relief map of Guatemala and Belize built by Francisco Vela in 1905. We had to stand there for an hour!
In my estimation, the site only deserved a passing view, since the exaggerated height of the mountains made them look kind of silly, sort of like straggling intrusions of inverted parsnips. Oh, well!