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How was Tibes Discovered?
In 1975, tropical storm Eloisa hit the city of
Ponce and it caused the Portugu6s River to overflow.
When the floodwaters subsided, they lay bare what was
to become the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center.
Seven "bateyes", two ceremonial "plazas", bur-
ial grounds and a myriad of artifacts were found on a
private farm in Barrio Tibes. The Ponce Municipal Gov-
ernment expropriated the farm to protect our cultural
A team of archaeologists, historians, geologists
and scholars surveyed the area and they analyzed the
vast amount of ceramic, lithic material and other cul-
tural remains found at the site. They concluded that
two different cultures, the Igneri and Pre-Tainos popu-
lated the Valley of Tibes at different times.
The Igneri Culture
The Igneri, or Saladoids, were the first farmers
and ceramists to settle in the West Indies. The jour-
neyed from the coasts of the Orinoco River in Vene-
zuela and settled in the various islands they found along
the way. They finally arrived in Tibes at around 300
The Igneri settled near coastlines and rivers,
developing an advance culture based on the cultivation
of cassava and other New World plants. An artistic con-
tribution of the Igneris the manufacture of pottery
shaped in the form of inverted bells. The artifacts were
painted red and decorated in most cases with white
The Igneri revered the Valley of Tibes. More
than a hundred human burials were found, some of
them containing offerings such as seashells, pottery,
food and amulets. This is regarded as the belief of a
spiritual and supernatural world.
The Pre-Taino Culture
The Pre-Tainos settled in the Valley of Tibes hun-
dreds of years later. They farmed, fished and hunted using
the Baramaya River (now Portugues) as a source of food
and transportation. Small tools for personal use were made
from seashells as well as other artifacts made from stones.
Pre-Tainos constructed the "plazas" and "bateyes" that char-
acterizes Tibes. Within the "plazas", they played a ceremo-
nial ball game called baton which in many instances had
ceremonial overtones. The playing grounds were marked
with rows of stones. Two teams participated in the game
each having 25-30 players. A heavy bouncy ball made from,
resins, roots, and leaves was tossed around back and forth.
Players could hit the ball with any part of their bodies ex-
cept their hands.
Several times a year, Pre-Tainos staged "Areytos",
ceremonies combining religious and educational elements.
Traditions, stories and beliefs were an intrinsic part of this
festivity that included music, dancing, and singing. The
"Areyto" was a rich learning experience for the younger
Why is Tibes Important?
**It's Igneri/Pre-Taino site in the West Indies.
**It's the major ceremonial center in the region.
**It's ceremonial plazas, ceramics, and it's many excavated
artifacts at the site are displayed in a modern museum.
**Tibes is a natural botanical garden. Many native species
such as higtiero, cojoba (Pithocellobium spp.), corozo and
fruit trees like soursop, bullock's heart and inga still survive.
Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center symbol
Facilities & Services
** Exhibition Gallery
** Conference Room
** Introductory video
** Guided tours free of charge
** Replica of village
** Ceremonial Plazas
** Lunch area
** Visitor's parking
** Souvenir shop
** Archaelogical laboratory
buren- round ceramic plate to cook "casabe"
casabe- cassava bread
coa- digging stick
barbacoa- observation tower
tibes- river stone
areyto- celebration ritual
guasabara- skirmish, fight
bija- red pigment
higAiera- gourd to make utensils
jicotea- sea turtle
an6n- sweetsop, custard apple
Boriken- land of the High Lord
Juracin- evil god
Yukiy(- supreme & good deity
Maboya- bad spirit
Area arqueol6gica I Archaeological area
Batey del Cacique
Cacique's Bell Court
Plaza de Estrell / Elliptica
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Batey de la Herradura / H
Baley Santa Elena / Santa El B
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One Row Ball Court
orehoe Ball Court
** Open for visits Tuesdays through Sundays
from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
** The site is closed on Mondays and on the following
holidays: Christmas, New Year's day, Three King's day
(Jan 6.), Good Friday, Thanksgiving, Mother's day and
** Open on Monday when is holiday and closed the
** Admission fees are $2.00 per children, $3.00 adults;
Seniors: $2.25-60- 64 years; $1.80-65-74 years.
Children under 5 years and seniors 75 years enter free
of charge. This admission fee includes parking and
** We have special rates for groups.
** For information or reservations, call:
(787) 840-5685, (787) 840-2255
Fax. (787) 259-2015
How to get here
Arriving in Ponce on Route #52 take exit 98 -A. (Ponce
Norte/Adjuntas). This will put you on Route #10. Keep
straight and after the traffic light watch for a green sign
to your right, that spells TIBES 503. Exit the highway
here. At the end of the short road, make a left. Straight
ahead, after a few minutes, you will find the entrance of
the Tibes Ceremonial Center on you right.
Gobierno Municipal Aut6nomo de Ponce
Oficina de Desarrollo Cultural
Centro Ceremonial Indigena de Tibes
P.O. Box 331709
Ponce, P.R. 00733-1709
1) Yucayeque -Indian village =-
2) Saladoid ceramic bowl with geometric design
3) Ceramic and handle fragment painted with on red
4) Wooden stool
5) Ceramic stamps used with paint to decorated
6) Saladoid vessel