Grutas de Oxtotitlan

Useful Information

Location: About 18 km north of Chilapa.
Open: Visitors must register with the local caretakers in Acatlán.
Light: n/a, bring torch
Guided tours:
Bibliography: David C Grove (1970): The Olmec paintings of Oxtotitlan Cave, Guerrero, Mexico, Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, No. 6. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., 1970.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1968 discovered.
2002 multi-year conservation project approved by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.


The Grutas de Oxtotitlan contains large-scale Formative period Olmec polychrome paintings, more than 2700 years old. There is only one other site with this kind of cave paintings.

The most impressive of these huge murals depicts an Olmec ruler in a cosmic travel ceremony. The enthroned figure is wearing a complex bird helmet or mask, which is cut away in shamanic x-ray to show the human face under the mask. Painted high on a cliff face it is overlooking a suite of fields. So the figure is thought to have been connected with the arrival of seasonal rains and agricultural fertility.