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17 January 2011
Pre-Columbian site in Mexico dated to 1500 BCE

Prehispanic ceramics, human skeletons and vestiges of dwelling and ceremonial areas are part of findings registered by archaeologists over a decade of excavations at Tepoztlan, Morelos (Mexico). This discovery reveals that the site had been in use earlier than the accepted date, which goes back to 1,500 BCE. This date surpasses the chronologies to date which record remains of a settlement at Xochimilca.
     This was announced by archaeologist Giselle Canto from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), who has conducted several excavations in 20 plots of the locality, of areas that vary in size from 800 to 70,000 square meters. At those plots, INAH researchers have registered findings of very ancient objects. Some of them reveal that occupation of the site goes back to the Early Pre Classic period (1500 to 1000 BCE).
     The INAH specialist detailed that among the different objects found, ceramic pieces are the earliest ones. "The homogenous features that vestiges present do not allow us to locate them in a precise cultural group. Vestiges correspond to the ceramic style named Tlatilco, found throughout the Basin of Mexico, Morelos and Puebla; we cannot determine if these objects were part of a specific culture, we need more information to establish it"
     Archaeologist Jaime Resendiz remarked that the discovery of vessels, offerings and sculptures also corresponds to the Early Pre Classic period; from this material, a 49 centimeters high hollow feminine figure stands out. Both archaeologists also mentioned the finding of a pyrite mirror buried with one of the skeletons that, according to studies conducted, corresponds to an elderly person of undetermined sex. "The mirror was a transitional object that helped the departed to enter the other world by using their reflection on the surface; it is a small fragment in a bad conservation state that has the same temporality".
     Associated with the same funeral were found Tlatilco-style vessels of the jug kind. These were used in rituals of birth and death and during the rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood. The vessels had a hole in the bottom, indicating that they were not utensils but ceremonial objects. Several terracotta and stone replicas of ceremonial buildings were found in the remains of dwellings.
     Archaeologist Giselle Canto considers it necessary to reformulate the site's chronology, since the discoveries form a more complex scenario. She concluded that after 10 years of research "we have the first archaeological findings of a society that reached 15,000 dwellers, with an excellent organization and a changing architectural style".

Edited from ArtDaily (12 January 2011)

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