понедельник, 27 января 2020 г.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City


Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a pre-Hispanic sweat lodge near La Merced, a market area in the historic center of Mexico City.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH


The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said in a statement Tuesday that the temazcal, as a domed, pre-Hispanic sweat lodge made out of mud or stone is known, was found during an excavation at a property on Talavera street, which is now known for the sale of baby Jesus statues.

Temazcales were used by indigenous people in Mesoamerica for medicinal purposes, spiritual rituals and childbirth.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH
Archaeologists found blocks made out of adobe and tezontle –a volcanic rock – that were used to build the sweat lodge as well as a bathtub used to heat the structure with steam. Based on the remains they found, the INAH team concluded that the temazcal was five meters long and about three meters wide.

INAH said the discovery has allowed archaeologists to pinpoint the location of Temazcaltitlan, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Tenochtitlan, the Mexica capital that would become Mexico City.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH


According to a chronicle of pre-Hispanic times in Tenochtitlan, a temazcal was built in Temazcaltitlan to bathe and purify Quetzalmoyahuatzin, a noble Mexica girl.

Hernando Alvarado Tezozomoc, a noble indigenous man who lived in colonial times, wrote in his Cronica Mexicayotl that ordinary residents of Tenochtitlan also bathed there.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH
The head of the INAH team that found the temazcal said the discovery is the first concrete evidence of Temazcaltitlan’s vocation as a center of bathing and purification.

Victor Esperon Calleja said the neighborhood belonged to the district of Teopan (also known as Zoquipan), which was the first territory built on Lake Texcoco and occupied by the Mexicas. It is believed that the female deities of earth, fertility, water and the pre-Hispanic beverage pulque were also worshipped in Temazcaltitlan.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH


In addition to the temazcal remains, on the same Talavera street property archaeologists found the remnants of a home that was possibly inhabited by a noble indigenous family shortly after the Spanish conquest and structures of a tannery, which operated during the last century of colonial rule before Mexico gained its independence in the early 19th century.

“The findings suggest that in the 16th century this area was more populated than we initially thought,” Esperon said.

Remains of pre-Hispanic sweat lodge found near La Merced, Mexico City
Credit: Edith Camacho, INAH
“Given that it was an area of chinampas [floating agricultural gardens], it was thought that there were few houses but at this property we have evidence of the wooden pilings and stones that were used for the wall foundations [of a home],” he added.

Esperon said that the methods used to build the house allowed archaeologists to date it to the first century of colonial rule between 1521 and 1620.


The walls of the four-room home were decorated with red motifs and its floor was made of adobe blocks, features that the archaeologist said indicated that it was “inhabited by an indigenous family, possibly of noble origin.”

The tannery, Esperon said, likely made leather from cattle slaughtered at the San Lucas abattoir, which was located close to where the Pino Suarez Metro station now stands.

Source: Mexico News Daily [January 23, 2020]



* This article was originally published here

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