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Mexican archaeologists find a 1,500 year old shaft tomb in the state of Colima
Architect Marco Zavaleta works inside the tomb. Photo: Meliton Tapia/INAH.

Translated by: Cristina Perez Ayala

MEXICO CITY.- A shaman’s sculpture (represented with a long face and a weapon at hand), is the guardian of a shaft tomb discovered in the state of Colima by investigators of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), who recently became the first to see its interior after it had been closed for more than 1,500 years.

With the fumaroles of the Fire Volcano as a background and underneath a plot of land in the municipality of Villa de Alvarez, the specialists from INAH are detailing the registry of this funerary space which was fortunately found intact, since shaft tombs are usually raided by looters because of the objects beauty within these, explained archaeologist Marco Zavaleta Lucido.

The archaeologist added that the salvage in Villa de Alvarez, near a place with recently recovered adult burials in cists, where he recently lifted three flat stones that sealed the vertical entry to the shaft tomb.

The underground space devastated by tepetate (a solid layer of volcanic rock) is distinct and earlier than the cist burials, dating between 0 and 500 AD, in the temporary margins of the Comala phase.

Physical anthropologist Rosa Maria Flores Ramirez detailed that both sides of the vault have bones that to one or two individuals that must have been placed inside previously, and whom were removed to place another individual. The main burial was found in an inferior layer of the excavation, lying on his back.

There is a theory that shaft tombs were used as homage to their ancestors, as well as where other characters from the same clan were deposited.

The characters that were introduced into the recently opened shaft tomb were accompanied by a rich offering composed of: six pots (of different sizes) and a tecomate (earthenware bowl). However, the piece that has been distinguished among all others is the shaman figure at approximately half a meter tall (19.69 inches).

Regularly, funerary spaces have been associated with the elite, since only they had the power and resources to make these types of constructions. Another status marking are the elements that were placed as offerings, including dogs as the soul’s guide to the underworld.

The archaeological salvage has also been an opportunity for students and teachers at the University of Colima, who went to the site in order to draw up a 3D context.

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