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100 Years of Archaeological Research at Xochicalco Commemorated in Exhibition
Iguana, Xochicalco, Morelos. Photo: Adalberto Rios.

MEXICO CITY.- Three life-sized Prehispanic sculptures found in fragments almost 20 years ago at Xochicalco Archaeological Zone, Morelos, are exhibited in public for the first time at Cuauhnahuac Regional Museum, after having been reassembled and restored. The exhibition commemorates 100 years of exploration at the site.

A jaguar, an iguana and a masculine deity denominated The Creator, approximately 1000 years old, account for the mastery of Xochicalco artists, a civilization that still keeps secrets, since until now only 15% of the area occupied by the Prehispanic city has been explored, informed archaeologist Silvia Garza Tarazona, responsible of reconstruction of the sculptures and curator of the exhibition.

“Earthly and divine were mixed in this artwork, giving it great symbolic value”, mentioned the researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), adding that the sculptures dated in the Epi Classic period (650-1100 AD) were found in 1992 by the Xochicalco Project headed by archaeologist Norberto Gonzalez Crespo.

“They were located in what we call a “Prehispanic dump” discovered when exploring buildings at the Great Platform near the Acropolis. In one of the rooms, whose roof had fallen, a great amount of ceramic fragments was found, as well as human and animal bones. Until now, 343 pieces have been found”.

One of the hypotheses regarding the material is that in the Prehispanic age sculptures were placed on the roof of some of the rooms at the Acropolis, commented archaeologist Garza Tarazona. “Stucco that covered the sculptures shows traces of weathering, since they were exposed to the sun and rain.

“We consider it was an important conjunct of sculptures, and it has been determined there were 18 (11 of them anthropomorphic, 4 of iguanas and 3 pumas). By the weight and quantity, we deduce they were on the roof”, she mentioned.

The Morelos INAH Center archaeologist declared that due to violent events that took place in Xochicalco near 1100 AD, originated by the inconformity of inhabitants with government and religion, which caused its decadence, the building of the sculptures was burned down until its collapse.

Due to the complexity of the reassemble of the 18 sculptures, for the commemorative exhibition only 3 were reconstructed, to be presented at Cuauhnahuac Regional Museum “Palacio de Cortes” until July 2011.

The emblematic piece is “El Creador”, a life-sized sculpture made out of clay: “It represents an adult male with great solemnity. He has great curved fangs and hooked nose, and is kneeling on his left leg, handling a liana. The eyes are similar to the Maya deities’ ones.

“He represents a divinity linked to fertility because he has 2 penises with the shape of lianas that get to his back and shoulder, tie on the chest reaching one of the ends the left thigh and the other possibly the right arm”, commented archaeologist Silvia Garza Tarazona.

The specialist, who has worked in Xochicalco for almost 30 years, added that the character carries a headdress that symbolizes time, as well as cocoa seeds that represent wealth. The sculpture must have been painted, as remains of red pigment on the liana, ears and hair show.

The iguana sculpture “is the figure that shows more movement, because its tail is up and the head points to the left. It carries bangles and a necklace of big beads”, mentioned the archaeologist.

The puma sculpture represents a seated feline in alert state and carries a rope on the neck whose extremes form a rectangle; it conserves its original colors: yellow body, tongue and gums, and red and white chest.

Xochicalco. Patrimonio Mundial. 100 años de investigaciones arqueológicas 1910-2010 (Xochicalco. World Heritage. 100 years of archaeological heritage 1910-2010) is open at Cuauhnahuac Regional Museum “Palacio de Cortes” in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 18:00 hours.

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