Secrets of Mexican Valley’s Oldest Temple Revealed by Archaeologists
In the oldest temple ever to be uncovered in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, archaeologists have uncovered a human tooth and limb bone in a room which appears to have been dedicated to ceremonial sacrifice, according to research published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The entire site containing the temple complex, which dates back to 300 BC, is approximately 5000 square meters in size and is made up of a plaza on the north side and a newly discovered complex of buildings on the east side, including a large temple, two smaller temple buildings, two residences and a number of fireboxes where ceremonial offerings may have been made.
Within the main room of the temple, researchers uncovered scattered animal sacrifice remains, obsidian blades, lances, a hearth, ornaments, ceramic vessels and incense braziers, suggesting that the priests engaged in ritual bloodletting and animal sacrifice. The discovery of human remains in the same location suggests the possibility of human sacrifice although it cannot be determined with certainty.
The temple complex was used during the Zapotec civilization, but radiocarbon dating and copious ash indicated that it burned down around 60 BC and appears to have ceased functioning by the end of the first century BC or first century AD, making it the oldest temple discovered to date in the Valley of Oaxaca.