A shaft tomb containing skeletal remains along with a rich assemblage of grave goods, has been discovered in a later cemetery in the state of Colima, Mexico by researchers at the National Institute of Anthropology and History
Archaeologist Marco Zavaleta Lucido explained, shaft tombs such as this are targeted by looters because of the beauty of the materials deposited within them. The excavators have produced a detailed record of this burial area which unusually, was found intact.
The sculpture of a long faced shaman holding a blowpipe is the guardian of the shaft tomb sealed up more than 1500 years ago.
In April 2013 archaeologists uncovered and began excavating a cemetery that contained the remains of 35 adults, of both male and females, as well as three infants, all within stone cists dating to what is called the Colima phase, AD400 to 600. Near these burials Marco Zavaleta located a sealed vertical shaft of 1.50 metres square, which represented the entrance to the tomb, dating to a slightly earlier date (AD0-500).
Within this probably family tomb chamber they found the skeletal remains of one or two individuals placed deliberately on top of another older internment. Once the archaeologists had excavated to floor level, they found another individual lying on its back.
Excavations near the National Museum of Interventions in Coyoacan on the outskirts of Mexico City, have revealed a rich depth of history from Aztec and colonial archaeology right up to the battle that took place there during the American invasion in 1847.
The museum is situated in Coyoacan in a former Convent that served as a base of operations for the Battle of Churubusco on August 20, 1847 which was the final defence of Mexico City against the American troops.
Deeper underground however the archaeologists from Archaeological Salvage Directorate of the INAH uncovered the older history of Coyoacan, as they carried out work 40 metres southwest of the former Convent.
The archaeologists explained that in 1428 the area passed into the Aztec empire and they uncovered evidence of this phase in the form of a platform with a series of domestic rooms.
“Associated with this platform we found an open space or yard with waste material concentrations … the finds relate to the production of ceramic figures; salt production; the process of lithic [obsidian] projectile point manufacture. There was also evidence of textile weaving”, they confirmed.
Along with the domestic materials, they found an offering placed beneath the floor of the platform to consecrate the construction of the structure, including three polychromatic ceramic vessels with snake-shaped handles, along with human figures made of clay.
Antonio Balcorta - one of the INAH archaeologists explained that other finds in the area showed this to have been an important centre and one of the the oldest pre-Hispanic districts of Huitzilopochco, called Pochtlan.
This excavation has allowed them to rule out the immediate area around the Convent of Churubusco as the ceremonial area of the Mexican settlement, which is likely to be located in the neighbourhood of San Mateo, further evidenced by the remains of the temple that was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli found beneath the church of that district.
Ceramic pipe was uncovered and followed for 13 metres which related to a sophisticated hydraulic system for the Convent gardens; in addition the archaeologists recovered several architectural elements dating to the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Cartridge cases and lead bullets
In the upper levels they found many cartridge cases and lead bullets, many showing the signs of impact, testimony of the bloody battle fought at this place on August 20, 1847, to defend Mexico City the advance of American troops.
Antonio Balcorta explained that after these excavation, the remains have been carefully sealed and reburied, “That’s part of our work.” he said, ” We work under the assumption that the remains we excavated had survived for more than 500 years, and we should preserve enough to allow future archaeologists to re-examine the site.”