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Traces of Ancient Human Sacrifices Uncovered in Mexico

Traces of Ancient Human Sacrifices
A new discovery reveals traces of ancient human sacrifices at Pozo de Ibarra, Mexico. Credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), part of Mexico’s Ministry of Culture, recently uncovered an ancient burial site. This finding provides valuable insights into funeral customs of the region’s pre-Hispanic era.

The discovery took place in Pozo de Ibarra during the construction of a sewage network. Archaeologists from the INAH Nayarit Center led the excavation efforts, working alongside the Nayarit government’s State Commission for Drinking Water and Sewage to preserve the cultural heritage.

Claudia Servín Rosas, the archaeologist leading the excavation, explains that they’ve discovered a burial system with two distinct parts. Firstly, there’s a primary burial where the skeleton is intact. Alongside it, there’s a collection of human bone fragments without any specific arrangement.

The team observed that certain bones, such as the femurs, tibias, and arm bones, were neatly placed in one spot. Meanwhile, skulls were deliberately grouped together with some even stacked on top of each other in another part of the burial site, according to INAH’s official press release.

Ceremonial practices associated with death

Careful investigations revealed that this burial forms part of a sophisticated funeral tradition. The bones were arranged all at once after they had decomposed into skeletons.

This method hints at special rituals connected to death during the pre-Hispanic era in this region. The discovery likely links to the Amapa cultural phase (500-800/850 AD), as artifacts like ceramic vessels and figurines from that era were also found, according to INAH.

During on-site analysis, researchers documented at least seven intact skulls, likely from males of various ages. Some of these skulls showed signs of cranial modification, a cultural practice common in Mesoamerican societies. This practice involved shaping the skull for aesthetic reasons and possibly to denote social status.

In interpreting this discovery, it was proposed that these burials may have been part of funeral rituals conducted within households in the region. It is believed these rituals could have involved burying male family members together, possibly as part of a ceremony marking the establishment of a settlement, according to INAH.

The new archaeological discovery is remarkable because similar burials haven’t been identified in nearby sites. It deepens the understanding of funeral customs in the region and highlights the importance of collaboration among various INAH departments for heritage protection, research, conservation, and education.

Since uncovering the site in Pozo de Ibarra, efforts have been made to conserve the remains, ensuring their preservation. As reported by INAH, the ongoing work underscores researchers’ dedication to conducting thorough studies on the worldview of the pre-Hispanic society that once lived in the area now occupied by the town.

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