Sites & cities that bear the name of Cuzcatlan


Today in : El Salvador
First trace of activity : ca. 11th century C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 16th century C.E
Recorded names : Kuskatan

Description : Cuzcatan (Nawat: Kuskatan) (Nahuatl: Cuzcatlan) was a pre-Columbian Nahua state confederation of the Mesoamerican postclassical period that extended from the Paz river to the Lempa river (covering most of western El Salvador); this was the nation that Spanish chroniclers came to call the Pipils or Cuzcatlecos. No codices survive that shed light on this confederation except the Annals of the Cakchiquels, although Spanish chroniclers such as Domingo Juarros, Palaces, Lozano, and others claim that some codices did exist but have since disappeared. Their Nawat language, art and temples revealed that they had significant Mayan and Toltec influence from the ties they had with the Itza in Yucatan. It is believed that the first settlers to arrive came from the Toltec people in central Mexico, mostly Puebla during the Chichimeca-Toltec civil wars in the 10th century AD. The people of Cuzcatan came to be called Pipiles in the historical chronicles, a term that today is usually translated as "boys" or less likely as "young nobles." This was due to the perception of the Central Nahuatl-speaking Tlaxcala and Mexica allies of the Spanish that the Nahuas of Cuzcatan were speaking a corrupted version of their language in those regions. An alternative theory is that it meant "nobles," from the Nahuas social class "Pipiltin" and the Nawat Pipil origin story that they are descendants of Nanahuatzin. The Nawat Pipil arrived in El Salvador around the year 900. On arrival, they had to fight their way to the new land due to the fact of the Mayan civil wars that were taking place as well but with the treaty or "cult" of Quetzalcoatl, Qʼuqʼumatz and Kukulkan the Pipil had many Mayan allies. City states such as Tehuacán, Chalchuapa and Cihuatán eventually became absorbed into the Cuzcatlan polity confederation. According to legend, the city of Cuzcatlán (the capital city of Cuzcatan, was founded by the exiled Toltec Ce Acatl Topiltzin around the year 1054. In the 13th century the Pipil city states were most likely unified, and by 1400, a hereditary monarchy had been established.

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