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Extinct Ethnic Group Vestiges Discovered in Chihuahua
MEXICO CITY.- More than a dozen dwelling, ritual and funerary sites, some of them more than 1,000 years old, were located inside shallow caves at Barranca de la Sinforosa (Sinforosa Gully), Chihuahua. According to preliminary studies, vestiges could correspond to Tubar people, an indigenous group that isolated in Tarahumara Mountain Range during Colonial times to avoid evangelization, and extinguished in late 19th century.

Nine dwelling sites, 2 ceremonial and 2 of funerary character were found in Ohuivo, Chorogue, Zapuri and Güerachi localities of Guachochi municipality in Chihuahua.

Archaeologist Enrique Chacon, from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), declared that according to first explorations, 3 types of sites were identified, which, according to architecture, burial system and regional research references, are dated in 16th-17th centuries, while others could go back to 11th century of the Common Era.

Regarding the features of these sites, he mentioned they are similar to those known traditionally as “cliff dwellings”, found in Northwest Mexico and Southwest United States.

Chihuahua INAH Center researcher pointed out that at funerary sites detected in rocky shelters, 5 individuals were found: 2 children and 3 young persons, which remains have been dated between 1000 and 1450 AD. In a cave at least 6 individuals of both genders and different ages were located; these rests date from 16th or 17th centuries of the Common Era. Skeletons were found disperse, they were not placed in specific positions.

Associated material indicates they were wrapped up in vegetal fiber matting (Petate), tied up with rope, and assured with wooden needles. Offerings were found as well, such as ceramic artifacts and vegetal gourds, mainly.

Cultural affiliation has been preliminary determined: Rests correspond to Tubar people. “The collective memory of Raramuri or Tarahumara people refers that archaeological sites located were dwelled by Cocoyome, term used to name Tubares that would not accept evangelization”, explained the researcher.

“We know that Tubar people had 3 development stages: they were nomadic, semi-nomadic and finally they settled down in small communities, using caves as dwellings, graves and warehouses”, added Chacon.

Ceremonial or ritual sites correspond to cavities drilled in the rocks of hills where rituals took place, apparently. One of these sites was found atop a hill and the other at the entrance of a cave.

Archaeological exploration began after indigenous groups reported the vestiges in 2009.

“We obtained ceramic material samples to compare them to Tubar ceramics we keep at Chihuahua INAH Center”. Chacon concluded that the first step to protect caves and cultural heritage has been taken; vestiges are registered in the INAH Public Register of Monuments and Archaeological Sites.


Mexico | Chihuahia | INAH | Enrique Chacon | Extinct Ethnic Group Vestiges |


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