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Research indicates indigenous pottery traditions were adapted to Spanish customs
Over 27,000 pottery fragments found by INAH experts on the grounds of the estate of Nava Chavez reveal the daily life of the pre-hispanic and colonial eras. Photo: Proyecto Templo Mayor, INAH.

Translated by: Cristina Perez Ayala

MEXICO CITY.- Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines, clay sculptures, pots, capstans, seals, smokers, braziers, plates, washbasins, cups, bottles and other clay objects, wall tiles or porcelain, which sum up to 27,236 pottery pieces, 10 complete pieces and 32 figurines were found in the premises of the entailed estate Nava Chavez of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, which started out as a ritual space of Mexica deities and slowly became the residence of the nascent Novohispano society.

From this ceramic universe, 11,167 pieces or fragments are pre-Hispanic; 15,144 colonial, 13 from the independent period and 912 are undetermined. After a two year analysis of these materials, archaeologists Camila Pascal Garcia and Mirsa Islas Orozco, from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the change of the use of this sacred space, situated before the main building in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, is evident.

The transition of the site’s indigenous life and colonial life has determined the stratigraphy, and the investigation derived from the ceramic material signals a gradual mix where indigenous traditions were slowly adapting to Spanish customs.

With Moctezuma Ilhuicamina or Moctezuma I, added Camila Pascal, the Mexica Empire reached a great territorial expansion. From this stage they found, at the foot of the main building, amongst other elements, 36 smokers in Offering 130 these were mainly used to purify sacred places.

The constructive stage VI (1486-1502 AD), from the peak period of Ahuizotl (“water dog” the 8th Aztec ruler), is one of the richest among those explored. Offering 120 belongs to this period and it’s composed of: a Tlaloc (rain god) pot which contained 195 beads of green stone and different types of seeds. These elements are linked to the aquatic and heavenly characteristics of the deity.

In Offering 127 archaeologists recovered 169 pottery pieces from the Tardy Postclassic period (1200-1521 AD), a majority of these pots were used in ceremonial rituals. In Offering 126 archaeologists recovered a pot with remains of blue pigment paint and black vertical lines which represent the rain deity.

From the VII epoch (1502-1520 AD), the Offer 132 stands out because of the material it was filled with: brazier fragments and an anthropomorphic sculpture of a grand dimension that represents a foot with a sandal tied at the back.

After the Conquest and in the last third of the XVI century, Pedro de Nava established himself in the premises. “The Nava family represented the nascent bureaucrats in the civil and ecclesiastical level. Toward the end of the XVIII century, the premises passed on to belong to the Convent of Our Lady of Conception”, added Mirsa Islas Orozco.

Most of the ceramic collection belongs to the Nava’s occupation period (1570-1773), which has been fundamental to understand the continuity and change in the technological traditions when these are related to social development.

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