- BBC News World
In what was once the home of a pre-Hispanic Mexica family, archaeologists made an astonishing discovery in Mexico City.
The inhabitants of that house performed a ritual “to give testimony that thus a cycle of their lives and their civilization was ending“.
And it is that the offering they made was made after the taking of the Mexica city of Tenochtitlan, founded by its Aztec predecessors in 1325 and which in 1521 fell to the indigenous-Spanish invasion that led to the Conquest of Mexico.
“Between songs and the smell of copal, the residents arranged in the patio an offering with multiple elements, among which a pot with bone remains (human ashes) and 13 polychrome incense burners of almost one meter in length, used to burn the resin. , explains the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in a statement.
The find was made last August by experts led by archaeologist Mara Abigaíl Becerra Amezcua.
The ceremonial offering was unearthed just over four meters deep on one side of Plaza Garibaldi, the space where mariachi music plays every night in Mexico City.
After three months of work, the INAH released the findings.
“Out of the eyes of others”
Becerra and his colleague Ximena Andrea Castro Rivera were in charge of investigating the various layers of land that were in the process of being excavated for a housing project in the center of the Mexican capital.
“A survey revealed the archaeological potential of the space and thus, at depths ranging from 3.50 m to 5.20 m, vestiges based on tezontles and adobes were discovered, in an approximate area of 80 m²,” explains INAH.
The investigations determined that there were walls of a Mexica house that belonged to the pre-Hispanic neighborhood of Tezcatzonco, not far from the Zócalo of Mexico City, the central square of the country (and Tenochtitlan before).
“It was covered with several layers of well-consolidated adobe to keep it out of the eyes of others, indicative of the mettle of those Mexica who remained in Tenochtitlan after the taking of the city by Hernan Cortes“, explain the specialists.
It was in the courtyard of that house with five rooms and a kitchen, whose walls and floors were amazingly preserved, where the offering was made in which its inhabitants performed the ritual for the end of the Mexica era.
“Although it was intended for domestic activities, other material evidence such as omichicahuaztlis (musical instruments made of worked bone), flutes and ocarinas indicate that various rituals took place there “, points out the INAH.
The End of His Age Offering
The experts still do not have an exact date on which the ritual celebrated in that house occurred, which could have been between the years 1521 and 1610, according to the first investigations.
But by the elements found and the context they have been able to determine that it was a ritual “to give testimony that thus ended a cycle of their lives and their civilization“.
From that pre-Hispanic neighborhood came the Mexica priest who lit the new fire every 52 years, when the Mexica marked the denouement and inauguration of a cycle of life for the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan, explains Becerra.
In one of four vessels found were cremated skeletal remains, which was “a funerary custom” of the cultures of that time and region.
“It was possibly an infant. However, this will have to be verified by micro-excavating the ashes,” says Becerra.
The discovery of the 13 incense burners – instruments for burning incenses – was also significant due to the symbolism they have regarding the Mexica calendar, the 13 levels of heaven, the axis of the world and the forces of the underworld.
“It was an essential act for the Tenochca worldview,” says Becerra.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC News Mundo. Download the latest version of our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.