Crocs Uncover

Bizarre Species

jueves, 14 de mayo de 2009

Ancient Elite Island With Pyramid Found in Mexico

An island for ancient elites that includes a treasury and a small pyramid (pictured) has been found in central Mexico, archaeologists said in May 2009.

The pyramid may been part of a ritual center for high-powered priests and other elites during the Tarascan Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries.

An island for ancient elites has been found in central Mexico, archaeologists say. Among the ruins are a treasury and a small pyramid that may have been used for rituals.

The island, called Apupato, belonged to the powerful Tarascan Empire, which dominated much of western Mexico from A.D. 1400 to 1520, before the European conquest of the region.
Because Apupato was an island and relatively unsettled, it is a neat window into how the [Lake Pátzcuaro] basin looked like years ago," said Christopher Fisher, lead investigator and archaeologist at Colorado State University.

"If you would paddle up to the island [during the time], you would see a number of buildings, some temples with smoke coming out of them from rituals, and a small village of specialized people—priests, elites," Fisher said.

The Purépecha people—named Tarascan by the Spanish—were formidable enemies with their neighbors, the Aztec. From their powerful capital city and religious center Tzintzuntzan, the Tarascans successfully thwarted every attack by the Aztec.

Tarascan people valued such products as honey, cotton, feathers, and salt, and they often expanded into neighboring lands in search of these goods.

Ritual Center

Fisher and colleagues found a square structure with a formal entrance that is believed to have been an imperial treasury.

Adjacent to the treasury is a small pyramid, which has large, open rooms that would have been suitable for ritual activity. Pipe fragments were also found near the treasury.

The pipe discoveries may bear out ritual descriptions on a previously found ancient Spanish scroll.

The scroll shows people smoking pipes and drinking pulque—a drink made of agave, a crucial crop used for alcoholic drinks, such as tequila, and syrup, Fisher said. The scroll also describes ritual treasury caches dedicated to specific gods.

"These caches were also used to finance activities like warfare," said Fisher, who has submitted a report describing his as yet unpublished research to Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Toward the end of the island's Tarascan occupation, the area was a "ritual center" where people of elite status lived and worked, he added.

The team identified a colonial-era chapel from the early 1500s, built in the first 20 years of the Spanish conquest.

Evidence of crop cultivation also suggests that humans continuously occupied the site for 2,000 years, Fisher said.

The entire island was covered in agricultural terraces, possibly to grow agave.

People created the terraces by digging sections of land about 6.6 feet (2 meters) wide, with earthen walls and a ditch on either side.

Filling in Gaps

"The discovery fills in gaps in the Lake Pátzcuaro basin's chronology," said Helen Perlstein Pollard, professor of anthropology at Michigan State University who has worked with Fisher in Mexico's Tarascan region.

"He discovered the basic sequence of occupation, the repeated use of this island over time, and the way the use of the island has shifted over time," Perlstein Pollard said.

Now, archaeologists can begin to examine the relationship between settlement patterns and the economic and political structures on the islands.

"We can now begin to ask the interesting questions," she said.

No hay comentarios: