Archaeologists uncover Pre-Hispanic mortuary bundle in Mexico
Archaeologists in the Hidalgo region of Mexico have discovered a rare mortuary bundle in a containing a well-preserved skeleton wrapped in fabric, according to Art Daily . The funerary practice, in which the deceased was placed in a crouched position and enclosed within layers of material, is characteristic of a number of pre-Hispanic cultures dating from as early as 100 AD until as late as 1500 AD. Further analysis will hopefully be able to identify the period in which the individual lived and the culture he/she belonged to.
The mortuary bundle was found inside a rock shelter in the oriental part of Sierra Gorda, in the municipality of Zimapan in Hidalgo. According to archaeologist Juan Manuel Toxtle Farfan, from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Mesoamerican cultures believed that caves and rocky refuges were “entrances to the underworld and the residence of death deities”, which is why they served as funerary spaces.
The skeleton was found to be a good state of preservation, still containing hair and teeth. The body is covered in a pigmented fabric and a mat. Initial analyses of the teeth and bones revealed that the individual was approximately 20 years of age at death. However, experts are still unsure whether the individual is male or female, since the important bones for this study (hip bones) are still under the bundle. To be able to analyze and understand other characteristics with precision they will have to open the bundle which will only be done once a restorer can intervene and give the fabric and mat some treatment in order to conserve them.
“The skeleton seems to be complete, but we will not know this with certainty until we can open the shroud, but at first glance we can appreciate the cranium, tibias, clavicles, scapula and some ribs,” said Toxtle Farfan. “The bundle’s characteristics, the position of the skeleton, the shroud and the space in which it was placed indicate this is a pre-Hispanic burial”.
While a number of pre-Hispanic mortuary bundles have been uncovered in Mexico, this is the only one of its kind found in the region, making it a unique finding for the archaeology of Hidalgo.
Featured image: Mortuary Bundle found in Mexico Photo: Juan Manuel Toxtle/INAH.