2,000 year old burial complex found in Mexico

A burial site with the osseous remains of some 28 individuals, whose antiquity is estimated to be around 1,500 and 2,500 years, was discovered by archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) east of the city of Colima. The quantity of skeletons found here lead archaeologists to believe this is a pre Hispanic burial site related to western cultures.

2,000 year old burial complex found in Mexico
The tomb consists of a funerary complex made up by a vertical well of varying depth that leads to a vault where the dead were deposited [Credit: CENTRO INAH COLIMA]
Marco Zavaleta Lucido, an archaeologist of the INAH Center in Colima, explained that this area, of about 114 meters square [374.01 square feet], has burials distributed inside and outside of a shaft tomb. The tomb consists of a funerary complex made up by a vertical well of varying depth that leads to a vault where the dead were deposited. Inside this tomb they located the osseous remains of 10 individuals; around it they found 16 other burials, two of which are double having two skeletons.

“At first they identified the burials because of the odd rock groupings that were used to cover them, they also found evidence of ceramic material which drove us deeper into the investigation”, explained Marco Zavaleta.

“At the burial’s center –he added– they discovered a unique shaft tomb; unique, because its shaft (1.2 meters [3.9 feet] deep) was covered by a mud mix that had not been found in Colima.

2,000 year old burial complex found in Mexico
The remains of 28 individuals, estimated between 1,500 and 2.500 years old, were found in the tomb [Credit: CENTRO INAH COLIMA]
“The tomb’s access is a shaft with a 70 centimeter [27.55 inches] diameter, located 80 centimeters [31.49 inches] underneath the street. The shaft’s end is decorated with a stepping stone oriented from west to east that allows access to the vault. The vault contains a great quantity of piled up bones in disarray, from which we have identified eight craniums. However, by the great quantity of osseous remains, it’s possible there might be more than 10 individuals”.

Rosa Maria Flores, physical anthropologist at INAH, detected a perfectly round perforation in the temple of one of the craniums, which will be studied in detail at the Anthropology Laboratory at the Regional Museum in Colima, to confirm it was a trepanation and analyze the motives behind its fulfillment.

According to the archaeologist, the shaft tomb held more than 20 ceramic offerings, among them: pots, bowls, plates, censers and two hollow bowls in the shape of dogs. “By association with the pieces –characteristic in this entity and known in the Comala style–, the osseous remains must date back to the first five hundred years after Christ”, explained the archaeologist.

2,000 year old burial complex found in Mexico
Burial markers found at the entrance of the tomb stone [Credit: CENTRO INAH COLIMA]
INAH specialists consider the fact that this funerary space could have been used more than once “maybe as a type of family crypt, where they were deposited after death”; also, given the tomb’s construction and the incorporation of offerings these people could have belonged to the elite, although customary accompanying ornaments have not been found, with the exception of some green beads found near one of the craniums.

Around the tomb, two meters away, they found a great quantity of burials, which correspond to wells that were excavated in tepetate “limestone”. Marco Zavaleta indicated that up to date they have only investigated the north and south areas, where they have recovered 16 burials, two of them doubles.

It’s important to mention that 6 of the 16 burials –the double burial counted among them– contained offerings with ceramic objects (pots, bowls, cups, and anthropomorphic female figurines with short skirts, loincloth and a headdress), along with tomb markers at the topmost part, which highlight them among the other funerary spaces and suggests that these could have been individuals with a high social ranks.

Source: INAH via Art Daily [May 10, 2013]

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