MEXICO CITY – Mexican and American archaeologists discovered a tomb with four skeletal remains dating back some 2,700 years in the ruins of a pyramid in the southeastern state of Chiapas, the National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, said.
“The find at this ancestral site of the Zoque ethnicity consists of the skeletons of four individuals, two of them wearing jade, along with ceramics and other objects prized by the culture of the period,” the INAH said in a statement.
The discovery was made my members of the Chiapa de Corzo Archaeological Project with the participation of specialists from INAH, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, and Brigham Young University in Utah.
The scientists said that every element indicates that this is a tomb of a dignitary of the time and “could be the oldest of its kind in all Mesoamerica,” which would require and adjustment to the chronology of the Olmec and Maya cultures, while showing that the use of pyramids as funerary monuments “is more ancient than believed up to now.”
The experts said that the ceramics uncovered make it possible to place the site in the middle classic period, between 700-500 A.D., which will be confirmed with carbon-14 dating and DNA and strontium studies of the bones and objects.
The find consists of a funeral chamber with an adjoining room inside one of the earlier structures “of mound 11 at Chiapa de Corzo, a pyramid calculated to have been between 6 and 7 meters (20 and 23 feet) high, with adobe stairs and a temple on the upper level,” the INAH said.
Inside the tomb were found the skeletal remains of three individuals, one of a high-ranking, richly attired dignitary about 50 years old, together with two others – one a little boy about a year old and a girl even younger – who would have been placed there as the man’s companions and were “possibly sacrificed,” the INAH said.
The principal figure was richly adorned with jade beads, a loincloth with pearls, jade pendants of different shapes on his ankles and knees, bracelets, armbands, a mask with green obsidian eyes and a pyrite mirror, and was surrounded by 15 vessels.
In an adjoining chamber was found a fourth skeleton, this one of a woman, also with a treasure of jade and pearls, earrings, amber beads and other objects.
The archaeologists stressed the similarity of this tomb with others discovered in the mid-20th century at La Venta Tabasco, one of the chief centers of the Olmec culture. EFE