Tombs of Tire: Location, Characteristics and Types

The shooting tombs they are mortuary wells from 3 to 4 meters deep on average that were used as burial chambers by the Mesoamerican peoples who inhabited the current territories of the states of Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima, as well as some areas of Michoacán, Sinaloa and Zacatecas.

They are called shooting tombs because of the way in which they are constructed, since they consist of a shot or well with one or two cavities on both sides inside. In these ceremonial chambers, which are communicated through tunnels, the dead were deposited along with all kinds of offerings.

Shot tombs Shot tomb of Nayarit, Mexico.

These tombs have different shapes and sizes, and are unique. They were built approximately between 200 a. C. and 600 d. C. The shooting tombs represent the greatest cultural and architectural wealth of this part of western Mexico; unlike other Mesoamerican regions, in this region there is no monumental architecture.

In these shooting tombs human remains have been found along with artistic representations. The ceremony in the mortuary chambers - where the deceased were deposited - included the burial with domestic utensils, as well as the construction of statuettes of men and women, animal figures, temples, houses, among others.


  • 1 Location
    • 1.1 Tomb of Huitzilapa
  • 2 characteristics
  • 3 Origin
  • 4 Types
  • 5 References


The famous tombs of shot are in several archaeological deposits of the states of Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima, in the zone of Zamora-Jacoma in the state of Michoacán, and in the south zone of Sinaloa and Zacatecas.

Tomb of Huitzilapa

The most important tomb of this funerary tradition was found in the Huitzilapa area, in the center of Jalisco, in 1993. The monumental shooting tomb was intact, unlike the others that had been found until then.

The other discovered tombs were sacked. Inside, only ceramic objects of no importance were found to be out of context.

In contrast, the excavation of Huitzilapa's tomb provided new archaeological data on the period in which it was built. It is considered that it was towards the Early Classic (100 AD-300 AD).

During this period various architectural units were built: plazas, terraces, mounds, ball games, cruciform houses and circular complexes.

The shooting tomb of Huitzilapa consists of two burial chambers and measures 7.6 m deep. Inside, the tomb contained six corpses - three in each chamber - that were buried along with rich offerings. It could be a family crypt with deceased of a specific lineage.

Recently in the center of Colima another untouched intact tomb was found. Also in the municipality of Villa de Álvarez a tomb was found. In the state of Nayarit, shooting tombs were built in Ixtlán del Río, Compostela, Tepic and San Pedro Lagunillas, among other sites.


- The name of the shooting tombs is derived from the type of construction. This type of tomb consists of a vertical well or shot 4 m or more deep (there are some up to 16 m). Inside it has a cavity with vaulted ceiling that measures from 2 to 6 m, or even more.

- The length of the tomb depended on the region and the number of buried dead. The floor of the tombs is usually paved.

- The burial chambers are dug in the tepetate or clay rock on the sides of the entrance shot. The dead were placed in said chambers along with their respective offerings. The offerings were represented in ceramic vessels, arrowheads and ornaments.

- In other tombs found there were figurines and clay images of people and animals and musical instruments (drums, whistles, rattles). Among the art objects deposited in the funeral chambers are also represented women or couples, as well as figures of people dancing, temples, houses, ball games, meetings, etc.

- The figures of women are almost always naked or wearing a skirt and different ornaments. On the other hand, men are dressed and sometimes wear war garments.

- When the deceased was placed in the funeral chamber, the pit remained hollow inside, not filled with earth. However, the entrance itself was sealed with tiles and the vertical hole that led to the chambers was filled. In this way, the tomb of animals and profaners was protected.


It is believed that the funerary tradition of shooting tombs originated in South America, among the pre-Columbian peoples of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. It is estimated that, from these places, this type of construction would have been taken to Mexico.

From archaeological findings it is considered that there was communication and exchange of artistic objects and other artifacts between the coastal indigenous peoples of Peru, Ecuador (Guayas Basin) and western Mexico.

Initially, the culture of the shooting tombs was associated with the Tarascan people, who were contemporary with the Mexicas. However, in the mid-twentieth century it was discovered that the objects found in the tombs were actually at least a thousand years older.

The first settlers of western Mexico were villages formed by nomadic farmers who worked ceramics; they made pots and clay figures. From the year 500 a. C. these peoples showed a different development.

This area was not under Olmec influence, which is considered the basis of Mesoamerican civilization. The shooting tombs are the best expression of this culture.


The Mexican shooting tombs present local and temporary variants in almost all the western territory of the country. The three most important developments are located in El Opeño (Michoacán) and La Capacha (Colima), and date from 1500 or 1300 to 300 a. C.

Shot tombs 1 Tomb of a camera

There are tombs whose well have a depth of 2 to 4 m but with a single burial chamber; others had an access well up to 16 m deep. In these tombs, only one person was buried.

Shot tombs 2 Two-chamber tomb

When the burial was in a group - for example, a family - the tomb was made of two chambers, one on each side.


  1. The cult of the ancestors in the tradition of shooting tombs. Retrieved on April 13, 2018 from
  2. The shooting tombs: a prehispanic practice in our geographical region. Consulted by
  3. They discover shot tomb in Colima. Consulted of
  4. Tombs of Tire. Consulted of
  5. Mexico history. Consulted by
  6. A funerary tradition Consulted of

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