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Archaeologists discover objects, more than 700 years old, at Nevado de Toluca in Mexico
The finding confirms that distinct groups from Valle de Toluca, such as the Otomis and Matlatzincas –and subsequently Mexicas–, climbed towards the volcano’s crater (more than 4200 meters above sea level [13779.52 feet]) to deposit these organic elements in said lake, as well as in Laguna de la Luna, where previous investigations had found remains of pre Hispanic objects. Photo: DMC INAH M TAPIA.

Translated by: Cristina Perez Ayala

MEXICO CITY.- Ceramic remains, bars and copal cones, maguey thorns and a couple of pieces of timber with the form of snakes, also known as “Tlaloc scepters” of about 700 years old were found by underwater archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, in the depths of the Laguna del Sol in Nevado de Toluca, Estado de Mexico.

The finding of said materials confirms that distinct groups from Valle de Toluca, such as the Otomis and Matlatzincas –and subsequently Mexicas–, climbed towards the volcano’s crater (more than 4200 meters above sea level [13779.52 feet]) to deposit these organic elements in said lake, as well as in Laguna de la Luna, where previous investigations had found remains of pre Hispanic objects.

The archaeologist Roberto Junco, co-director along with archaeologist Silvina Vigliani of the underwater Archaeology project in Nevado de Toluca, as well as Fernando Lozano, diving expert specializing in mountain water bodies, informed that finding the pieces is not easy. The bottom of the said Laguna Grande or del Sol, is turbid to which we also must add the presence phytoplankton, consequence of the introduction of trout in this ecosystem.

The “Tlaloc scepters” also speak of the ceremonial purpose of ascending to the Xinantecatl crater. The investigator Roberto Junco explained that pine trees and evergreens were selected and sectioned to elaborate these objects before reaching the lakes, since there are no trees in the highest part of the mountain.

As a place for worship, Nevado de Toluca was frequented from (at least) the year 650 to 900 AD (Late Classic period), this was also recently confirmed by the finding of ceramic pieces from this epoch.

More findings in the high mountain
The Nevado de Toluca project, undertaken about five years and a half ago, is not reduced to lake exploration. Their eagerness to understand elevation as a ritualistic space has driven them to select teams of archaeologists who systematically journey the surface of the high mountain.

In this occasion, the archaeologists of INAH also climbed some mountain peaks, among them the “Sahagun”, were they recovered small ceramic fragments as proof that these wild sites are also the reason for the offerings.

In high mountain archaeology the material is very scarce and eroded, said archaeologist Silvina Vigliani, who directs the surface exploration: “In this case, the ‘Sahagun’ peak has offered us more material since it’s more rounded, less rocky, and the absence of much vegetation protects these old ceramic elements.”

Specialists Vigliani also said that another important finding in the project during 2012 was locating an apparently anthropomorphic and decapitated sculpture found at the north shore of Laguna de la Luna. The sculpture was found while archaeologists carried out topography work in the area. The carving of the stone stands out because of its sate of conservation.

The sculpture, along with stucco stones and smokers (sahumadores) located in previous explorations, perforations and the remains of petroglyphs in the rock –that could represent a personage in a sitting position–, indicates there was a momoxtli or circular structure 4 meters (13.12 feet) of diameter, immediate to said lagoon, for the realization of ceremonies. This structure was most likely placed during the apogee of the Teotenango lords, towards the Epiclassic period, 700-900 AD.

With this recent season, the Nevado de Toluca project, which represents the only underwater archaeology initiative in the world done at such heights, closes a cycle in the exploration of its water bodies while they wait for more intensive work in the lakes and on land.





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