Mass Aztec grave found

aztecA mass grave found during the excavation of a pyramid in Mexico City may contain the remains of the last Aztec warriors who fought Cortes and the Spanish.

The mass grave is currently being excavated and contains at least 49 adult Indians who were buried in the remains of a pyramid razed by the Spaniards during the 1521 conquest of the Aztec capital.

The pyramid complex, in the city’s Tlatelolco square, was the site of the last Indian resistance to the Spaniards during the monthslong battle for the city.

Guilliem said many burials have been found at the site with the remains of Indians who died during epidemics that swept the Aztec capital in the years after the conquest and killed off much of the Indian population.

But those burials were mostly hurried, haphazard affairs in which remains were jumbled together in pits regardless of age or gender.

The burial reported Tuesday is different. The dead had many of the characteristics of warriors: All were young men, most were tall and several showed broken bones that had mended.

The men also were carefully buried Christian-style, lying on their backs with arms crossed over their chests, though many appear to have been wrapped up in large maguey cactus leaves, rather than placed in European coffins.

The mass grave contained evidence of an Aztec-like ritual in which offerings such as incense and animals were set alight in an incense burner, but Spanish elements including buttons and a bit of glass also were present.

There are several possibilities offered as to how the remains might have come to be.  It seems as if right now they are just guessing in the dark.  More excavation needs to be done before they know for  sure.  But, this is an astonishing find regardless. 

[via Clusterflock]

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jamesfurbush February 13, 2009, 9:30 am

    Cool! Thanks Macon.

  • Macon February 13, 2009, 8:21 am

    I think the bigger issue here, at least bigger than the find, is how they were buried, using traditional burial methods of both the Aztecs and the invading Spaniards. As divided as the two groups were during this period, the fact that at least some had found a middle ground, at least in death, is astonishing and raises a wealth of questions. I found a good write-up of the questions here

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