Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Cacaxtla – 34 years of researches

Category: News reports

september 16, 2009, INAH, Tlaxcala. In September 1975, a group of San Miguel del Milagro, Tlaxcala dwellers discovered at Cascasmeme a human face painted in black, with clear Maya influence, which led to archaeological exploration at Cacaxtla, a unique city in the High Plateau. Exploration of this zone has allowed enlarging knowledge of the complex formation of the city that became the most important in the High Plateau after Teotihuacan abandonment, between 700 and 900 AD, contemporary of El Tajin, Veracruz, and Xochicalco, Morelos.

Archaeological research has been continuous and in recent dates the Great Base surface has been subject of meticulous examination, informed archaeologist Andres Santana Sandoval. Recent discovering includes surface layers on the east Great Base façade, which was the main one; in some zones, original floor has been detected”, commented the Tlaxcala INAH Center archaeologist at his conference “Sacrifices and Offerings in Cacaxtla” presented as part of the archaeological zone 34th anniversary. Occupied between 100 and 1100 AD, Cacaxtla still holds secrets; its cultural affiliation remains unknown, although vestiges point out that Olmeca Xicalanca might have dwelled it.

Maya, Teotihuacan, Mixteca, Zapoteca and Nahuatlata influences are clear. At the conference presented in Tlaxcala Legislative Palace, Santana declared that osseous rests of nearly 300 individuals have been found, being infants more that 2 thirds of them. “Cacaxtla abandonment near 100 AD was motivated by arrival of other groups; before leaving, many sacrifices were offered. 200 children were found with signs of have been sacrificed. It is possible that children were from the community; some of them wore ornaments at the moment of death, such as stone, bone or clay beads, in the figures of frogs or possums. Silex and obsidian projectiles were found, which might have been used to sacrifice them”. Richness of the offerings is other aspect mentioned by the archaeologist; in a cist at Patio Hundido, estrombus type seashells were found, used as musical instruments in rain asking ceremonies. Other objects found were carved bones, used as spatulas or needles in self-sacrifice rites, as well as obsidian scrapers and knives.

Offerings not associated to burials contained outstanding items. In one of them we found vestiges of murals and detached reliefs, intentionally destroyed, “maybe to avoid desecration by future dwellers”. He concluded mentioning that on top of Monticule B the greatest deposit of items in good conservation state was found; 2 large obsidian knives, more than 50 centimeters long, each; 3 jadeite pectorals, whistles, coral branches, marine shells, beads and rests of a Tlaloc mask.

Brief recount

1975 – Bird Knight mural is discovered and rescued, Building A is liberated and conservation and cleaning work is done on 5 paintings.
1976 – Begins the first intensive excavation of Building B, a stair nucleus is found and when cleaning it, the Sacrifice Mural (The Battle) is discovered. 22 meters long, it is one of the largest in Mesoamerica.
1985 – Part of Red Temple mural is found and when building the modern roof, Venus Temple is discovered.
1990 – Building B excavation is retaken and exploration of Three Pyramids Plaza is begun.
1998 – Eleven clay sculptures covered with stucco are recovered. They represent seigniors of Cacaxtla and are now exhibited at the Site Museum.

Source: INAH.

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