Las Labradas – San Ignacio, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Las Labradas

San Ignacio, Mexico

This gorgeous stretch of coastline is home to beautiful views and centuries-old rock art.  

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Not far south from the Gulf of California exists a unique archaeological site considered one of the most important places containing ancient petroglyphs on the continent. Las Labradas (Spanish for “The Carved/Tilled Ones”) are likely to be the work of the Toltec culture. The Toltecs are considered one of Mesoamerica’s oldest civilizations, finding their apogee after the “mother culture” of the Olmecs and well before the better-known Aztecs, but sharing several cultural aspects with both

The artwork found at Las Labradas dates back to the ninth and 10th centuries. Nearly every rock at the site contains some form of artwork, from depictions of humans, to fish and plants. What sets Las Labradas aside from other archaeological sites of its kind is its natural location right on the beach of the Sea of Cortez, as well as not being an ancient city but rather a collection of boulders, likely carved for ritual purposes.

While Las Labradas is the best-known of the Toltec seaside carved boulders sites, others like Acatitlan, Cerro Prieto, El Cuichi, and La Mesa de Cacaxtla can be found nearby. The town of Piaxtla, near Las Labradas, is also known as the site of the legend of a hidden pirate treasure. This legend likely originated in the early 19th century, when the town had a port from which many precious minerals mined nearby would depart for destinations in the former Spanish colonies, as well as Brazil.

Know Before You Go

Use your cell phone camera as a filter to better see the engravings.