sábado, 1 de octubre de 2011

ArchaeoHeritage - 17th century skeletons found in Mexican City

Specialists from the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, found buried under an old pedestrian walkway in the city of Merida, capital of the southeastern state of Yucatan, a total of 14 human skeletons estimated to date back to the 17th century, the organization said. 

The 14 human skeletons found buried under an old pedestrian walkway in the city of Merida [Credit: INAH]

The bones were found several days ago in the subsoil of the downtown Pasaje de la Revolucion, on the floor of two chapels that stood there in colonial days and that were destroyed during the 1910-1917 Mexican Revolution, the institute said in a communique. 

The discovery occurred during the work of remodeling the passageway under the supervision of INAH experts, when laborers removed the floor to explore the drainage system. 

Agustin Peña Castillo, responsible for the work of archaeological preservation, said in the note that several of the skeletons have “spade teeth,” incisors with a cupped, shovel shape on their inner side, a genetic trait typical of Indian populations. 

The discovery is related to another that was made in the same area in 1999 when the atrium of the cathedral was found, the specialist said. 

On that occasion 17 skeletons were found from around the period of the Spanish conquest. 

The new find of skeletal remains was buried in an area with four rainwater wells. 

“Up to now three of the wells have been explored and human remains have been found there as well as fragments of colonial ceramics,” Peña said. 

“The chapels of San Jose and Rosario existed on this site in the days of the Spanish colony, the same two that were destroyed during the Mexican Revolution. So that the presence of these skeletons follows the colonial custom of burying the dead both inside and outside the churches,” he said. 

Because of the rains that have fallen in the last few days in this part of the country, the experts took some of the bones to INAH’s Yucatan headquarters for study to determine their exact antiquity. 

The individuals to whom the skeletons belonged were buried in different positions, “some on their backs and others in a fetal position, while still others were second burials, in other words, in a grave already occupied by a skeleton, room was made on one side to bury another person,” he said. 

In the area where the colonial burials have been found, there also existed in the pre-Columbian era a large-scale mound in the ancient city of Tiho or Ichka’ansiho – which in Mayan means “scene of the birth of the heavens” – which is what the area where Merida now stands was called before the Europeans arrived. 

“These new discoveries are relevant because they allow us to obtain information about the sequence of inhabitants in the region, from the pre-Columbian era to the 19th century. We have hopes of finding materials dating back before the conquest, though undoubtedly most will be from the colonial period,” the expert said. 

 Latin American Herald Tribune 

Source: The Archaeology News Network

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