The human remains in a newly discovered ancient burial site in Mexico were arranged in a strange manner, suggesting a ritualistic burial. The find could help archaeologists to fully understand early Mexican society.
Mysterious Burial Site
A mysterious burial site was recently discovered in the city of Tlalpan, south of Mexico City. The archaeologists discovered the 2,400-year-old burial site under a building which housed a dorm for priests, a chapel, and small classrooms at the Pontifical University of Mexico. But more than the urban location of the site, it was the positioning of the remains in it that mystified archaeologists.
The 10 human skeletons were positioned in a circular or spiral formation, with each of them on their sides and their arm bones interlocked. At least two of the skeletons are confirmed to be female and one confirmed to be male. Among the remains, one was a child's and another was an infant's. Mexican artifacts such as clay pots were also found at the site.
Initial observations reveal that a couple of the skulls have intentional deformities, and so do some of the skeletons' teeth. It is so far unclear whether the deaths were intentional or of natural causes, but experts believe that the owners of the skeletons were likely related because of the way they were positioned so closely together, and that the arrangement of the remains was a part of a ritualistic burial, especially since the skeletons were of different ages.
"We believe that it could be some interpretation of life, because individuals have different ages," said Jimena Rivera, director of the Project of Excavation and Archaeological Salvage, in an interview with local news.
The particular village associated with the burial site was discovered back in 2006 and experts from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have been excavating and conducting research in the site and around it since then.
According to experts, the village came many years before the Aztec Empire, and likely endured for just about 500 years in between the Ticoman and Zacatenco phases, which are both major phases in early Mexican history. Researchers surmise that at the time, the area was likely surrounded by fertile land, a wooded area, and waterfalls which provide fresh water.
As it stands, there is no agreement among experts on the reason why such civilizations lasted for just a short period of time while others lasted for longer. One possible explanation is simply the Mexican region's active volcanoes, but a recent study has also linked salmonella to the downfall of the Aztec Empire.
If such an infection could have led to the downfall of a major Empire, could a sickness or epidemic also have contributed to the short lifespans of some early Mexican civilizations? As of now, there's still no consensus on the matter, but perhaps a discovery could help experts understand early Mexican societies better.