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Twenty Human Skeletons and Fragments of Colonial Ceramic Found by INAH Archaeologists
The arrival of Hurricane Karl derived in the discovery of more remains. Photo: Judith Hernandez/INAH.
MEXICO CITY.- Nearly 20 human skeletons and fragments of Colonial ceramic were found in a 16th century cemetery by archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in the back of Casa de Cortes, in La Antigua, Veracruz. Excavations conducted since June 2010 had already found 8 skeletons, but the arrival of Hurricane Karl derived in the discovery of more remains.

The findings are part of the archaeological restoration project conducted by INAH through its Veracruz Center. Archaeologist Judith Hernandez Aranda, coordinator of the excavations financed by the Veracruz State Government and Fundacion GEO, informed that labors are taking place in the cemetery of the former San Cristo del Buen Viaje Temple, registered also as Santo Cristo del Calvario, known thanks to previous historical research.

Most of the bone and ceramic material dates from the 16th to 19th centuries, but some Prehispanic ceramic found has been dated in the Late Post Classic period (1300-1519). The archaeologist mentioned that probing wells were covered and protected facing the arrival of Karl on September 17th 2010.

She recalled that after the hurricane and before resuming work, the area where one of the earliest Catholic cemeteries used to be, underwent cleaning and it was then when the new skeletons were discovered.

Hernandez Aranda pointed out that from one the skeleton’s stands out a skull that presents dental mutilation, which indicates that the person was an Indigenous buried in a Catholic context. La Antigua was one of the first Colonial settlements so it is common to find skeletons that present marks of Prehispanic rituals.

This skeleton is being studied by physical anthropologist Blanca Lilia Martinez de Leon, who will also examine the other osseous remains to present a diagnosis of their cultural affiliation and age.

The archaeologist mentioned that another skeleton was wearing a beaded necklace; another was accompanied by a red ceramic recipient with feldspar inlay, typical of the contact-with-Europe period. Sadly, most of the burials have been found in dug up contexts due to modifications that happened in the terrain during 2 centuries.

Archaeologist Hernandez mentioned that remains of walls found indicate that the building known as Casa de Cortes extended beyond its current limits, and that the extension of the cemetery and the entombment systems of the era must still be studied.

After treatments applied to the human remains, the Veracruz INAH Center commented that they are being removed and taken to the laboratory for them to be studied and conserved.

Judith Hernandez indicated that according to the historical investigation, during the first decades of the Colonial period La Antigua was a strategic point for commerce since it was part of the obligatory route to Mexico City from the coast.

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