The tombs date back to 200 AD. to 1100-1200 AD; the findings provide new evidence about pre-Hispanic settlements in the Sierra Juárez
The discovery of five ancient Zapotec tombs by a multidisciplinary team from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in San Pedro Nexicho, Oaxaca, provides new evidence that the area was one of the largest and most important pre-Hispanic settlements in the Sierra Juarez.
The rescue of the vestiges was carried out by the federal Ministry of Culture, through the INAH Oaxaca Center, with the financial support of the Alfredo Harp Helú Foundation (FAHHO), who developed a project to rescue, investigate, register and preserve the funerary monuments. .
The actions in the field, detailed, in a statement issued by the INAH, the director of the Atzompa Monumental Complex Project, Nelly Robles García, were carried out between 2015 and 2020, and now a phase is being carried out, which consists of the analysis of archaeological materials, which will be published in the future.
Robles García, pointed out in the statement that, given an alert from the FAHHO of irregular activity in some of the tombs, the INAH Oaxaca Center commissioned a group of professionals from its Archeology, Historical Monuments and Conservation sections to value four rectangular tombs and one cruciform, which were in poor condition, and now have new covers and accesses.
The INAH team found that Tomb 1, discovered by a neighbor in 2010, had been looted; Despite this, materials that were part of the funerary paraphernalia were recovered, such as a small gold bead and splendid murals. The specialists were given the task of rehabilitating the architectural structure and restoring the mural painting that was lying on the floor.
Robles García also explained that Tomb 1, the largest, has a cruciform plan and is located on what was a residential terrace. A small stepped system, like a ramp, leads to the entrance, in the shortest part of the cross; from there, one enters the antechamber, four meters wide by one long. Afterwards, the main chamber follows, two meters long by 1.40 meters wide.
Although there are paintings on all the walls, executed in a “codex style”, the war scenes in the main chamber stand out, in which several richly dressed characters appear, painted with black lines, with a deep red background and some elements in yellow.
Its quality, iconography and color give it a high cultural value. These works were stabilized by a team led by the former INAH National Coordinator for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Lilia Rivero Weber.
The tombs of San Pedro Nexicho were occupied between the Classic and Early and Late Postclassic periods (200 AD to 1100-1521 AD). In this sense, “they will give us clues on the topic of the elite tombs of those times, and we will be able to add them to the map that includes those found in places like Monte Albán, Atzompa and Suchiquiltongo, in the Valley of Oaxaca,” says Nelly Robles.
Unlike tombs 1, 3 and 4, from which few materials were recovered, such as local ceramic miniatures, shell, and foreign green stone; tombs 2 and 5 were found with their funerary context intact, including osteological material that, despite its poor condition due to moisture filtered in the last five centuries, will provide data on its former inhabitants.
For example, in crypt 2, used as an ossuary, 240 complete and semi-complete objects were found, including stuccos with Zapotec writing, and sgraffito sculptures that reveal their own mountain style. Robles García points out that, in the case of Tomb 3, a small piece of textile revealed that an individual was shrouded and deposited inside, already in the colonial period.
Source: El Universal