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Worked human bones found on Janitzio island in an excellent state of conservation. Source: CINAH Michoacán

Traditional Boat Find Reveals Pre-Hispanic Treasures in Mexico

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A recent accidental discovery of a traditional boat, or tepari, on the island of Janitzio in Lake Pátzcuaro has led to significant archaeological findings, shedding new light on the region's pre-Hispanic history. The Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico, along with specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the local indigenous community, is spearheading efforts to conserve and research these important artifacts.

The Remarkable Tepari Discovery

In early May 2024, the discovery of the tepari, measuring an impressive 14.80 meters (48.56 feet) in length, was registered on Janitzio island. This traditional boat, which sank with its load of firewood, presumably traveled from Erongaricuaro to Janitzio. The size and condition of the boat make it a significant find, prompting further exploration and conservation efforts.

According to the INAH report, following the initial discovery, INAH researchers and community authorities conducted dredging operations on the island, uncovering an area rich with pre-Hispanic artifacts. This led to the initiation of archaeological rescue and research work, supported by the Environment Secretariate of the Government of the State of Michoacán.

The tepari, a traditional boat, stands out, measuring 14.80 meters. (CINAH Michoacán)

The tepari, a traditional boat, stands out, measuring 14.80 meters. (CINAH Michoacán)

Uncovering Pre-Hispanic Vestiges

The dredging and excavation efforts have yielded an impressive collection of artifacts, including worked human bones, mainly femurs, in an exceptional state of preservation. These grooved bones are unique in their type and provide valuable insights into the mortuary practices and rituals of the pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the region.

In addition to the human remains, abundant ceramic and stone objects have been recovered. These items were likely thrown into the lake as offerings, reflecting the cultural and religious practices of the time. The discovery of these artifacts highlights the rich cultural heritage of the Pátzcuaro region and offers a glimpse into the lives of its ancient inhabitants.

Archaeological remains discovered on the shores of the island of Janitzio. (CINAH Michoacán)

Archaeological remains discovered on the shores of the island of Janitzio. (CINAH Michoacán)

Conservation and Community Involvement

The conservation of these movable archaeological materials is being carried out in collaboration with the community of Janitzio. Efforts are also underway to preserve other tepari that have been identified in the area. The ultimate goal is to establish a community museum on the island, showcasing these important finds and promoting cultural heritage awareness.

The INAH is working closely with local communities around Lake Pátzcuaro to foster a culture of conservation. Residents are encouraged to report any archaeological findings to the INAH Michoacán Center to ensure proper documentation and preservation.

The establishment of a community museum on Janitzio island will not only preserve these valuable artifacts but also serve as a center for cultural education and tourism, benefiting the local community economically and culturally. This initiative reflects a broader commitment to cultural preservation and community engagement, ensuring that the legacy of the ancient inhabitants of Pátzcuaro is honored and remembered.

Top image: Worked human bones found on Janitzio island in an excellent state of conservation. Source: CINAH Michoacán

By Gary Manners

 
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Gary

Gary is an editor and content manager for Ancient Origins. He has a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of York and a Diploma in Marketing from CIM. He has worked in education, the educational sector, social work... Read More

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