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Mexican archaeologists find 500-year old cranium belonging to a decapitated individual
INAH's specialists found the cranium of a decapitated individual thought to be 500 years old. Photo: MELITON TAPIA/ INAH.

MEXICO CITY.- Archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) recently found the cranium of a decapitated individual, dating back 500 years ago in the Archaeological Zone in Tlatelolco, which is part of a small offering located at the foot of the Great Temple of the site.

According to the archaeologist Salvador Guilliem, director of the Tlatelolco Project, the osseous remain belonged to a young adult and it was deposited over a pot. Both materials were found at a level that is related to the construction era VII-A of the Great Temple (between 1500 and 1515 AD).

The INAH specialist said that the finding was registered during the first phase of archaeological exploration, which is why it has been impossible to determine the dimensions of the offering, which could be of consecration, meaning it was placed here during the preparation rituals of the space that this edification would occupy.

“We’re delimiting the space to see if the oblation is composed exclusively of the cranium and the pot, or if we have more remains associated with it”, said Guilliem when he added that more physical anthropology studies should be made. Through the teething they have been able to determine he is an adult, most likely a war captive that would have been decapitated.

“The archaeological exploration –he added– has several phases, the first is prospection, which consists of verifying the dimensions of the objects that constitute the archaeological context, in this case the cranium and the pot; the second is the registry of these elements, and the third is the taxonomic classification that allows us to contemplate all the evidence in a more certain manner,” he expressed.

The discovery was made after a custodian, in charge of cleaning labors, as part of the Program of the Conservation of Archaeological Monuments 2013, reported what seemed to be a buried pot.

Upon inspection, rescue and excavation labors, the archaeologists Salvador Guilliem and Paola Silva found a small offering that had been covered with limestone, but because of the rain in the capital a small landslide occurred with facilitated its finding.

Paola Silva, responsible of maintenance in the Archaeological Zone in Tlatelolco, also specified that this small offering is the 34th found, and that a meticulous exploration should be done to avoid heavy losses of information.

“We can’t lower excavation levels very quickly because there are fragments of ceramic that we found near the offering, and we don’t know if they belong to it or if they belong to some other filling; before we remove them we have to check their disposition and how they got there, all the while making a thorough registry of the context”.

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