Skip to comments.Mexico City dig reveals diversity of pre-Columbian people
Posted on 01/30/2003 7:05:47 AM PST by vannrox
|Mexico City dig reveals diversity of pre-Columbian people|
Story Filed: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 3:58 PM EST
Mexico City, Jan 29, 2003 (EFE via COMTEX) -- Recent archaeological excavations in Greater Mexico City suggest the Aztecs, far from being a homogeneous people, were an aggregate of diverse groups who conquered their enemies without wiping out their languages and traditions.
"The problem is that we call everything pre-Columbian that shows up in Mexico City Aztec. But that term should not be employed," said Maria Flores Hernandez, archaeologist in charge of the most recent excavations in Tacubaya, west of the capital.
The Aztecs, also known as Tenochas and Mexicas, originated in the legendary Aztlan, whose precise location remains a mystery. They emigrated to the Valley of Mexico, where they founded their city in 1325.
Over time, the warlike people populated the valley and conquered and assimilated the other residents, but did not totally wipe out their culture and symbols of identity.
In mid-January, Flores identified the remains of a Tepaneca grave in an western area of Mexico City where a utility company was digging underground.
Since that work began, four graves and concentrations of ceramics have been dug up, all dating back to the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
"The Tepanecas were a remarkable group in Mexico's history, because they controlled the region, the Mexican basin, until the Mexicas-Tenochas, allied with Texcoco and Tlacopan, defeated them," Flores said.
At the time, the Tepanecas lived in a broad arc of settlements divided among the Azcapotzalco, Tlacopan, Tacubaya, Mixcoac and Coyoacan neighborhoods.
"Beginning with that victory, the Mexicans are the ones to go down in history, extending their empire into Chiapas in the south and Jalisco in the north," Flores said.
The archaeologist also recounted how Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his allies from Tlaxcala and Texcoco defeated the Mexicas, who from the beginning of their expansion in 1430 became the most firmly entrenched power in Meso-America.
"I don't like the term Aztec. It's obvious they were all related. That's the Meso-American phenomenon. In many cases, the rites, the language were the same, but each people defined and recognized itself differently," Flores explained.
The Mexican capital, built during the colonial period on the remains of pre-Columbian buildings the Spanish conquerors had destroyed, continues to yield archaeological treasures every time public works are undertaken.
On Donceles Street, near the Templo Mayor (Great Temple), another archaeological team has found remains that reinforce the hypothesis that the Mexicas' ceremonial center was more complex than was believed, lacking large open spaces.
Though new remains are always cropping up, Flores complains that funding for her work is constantly shrinking.
"Everyone knows that most of the country is an archeological zone," Flores continued, wondering why the past was not taken more into account in the city's modern development.
Among the problems created by rampant population growth, one that stands out is the lack of protection afforded resources like water, which pre-Columbian people controlled through dikes and canals.
Flores also highlighted the paucity of green spaces within the city, which politicians divvyed up among their friends with no respect for laws and regulations.
All of these ills derive from "a terrible power struggle" and cause the memory and wealth of the past to be lost, she continued.
After 23 years working in different areas around the capital, Flores has concluded that the city's only hope for survival is to halt its demographic explosion by creating more job opportunities in the countryside.
"Perhaps we should protect the environment more and as a result make it possible to reclaim our past," she said.
By Alberto Cabezas. ac/mp/dr
By Alberto Cabezas.
Copyright (c) 2003. Agencia EFE S.A.
KEYWORD: Mexico City SUBJECT CODE: CUL MEXICO ARCHAEOLOGY
Copyright © 2003, Agencia EFE, all rights reserved.You may now print or save this document.
Yeah, just as long as the conquered peoples provided plenty of fodder for human sacrifices, the Aztecs let them keep a few folk songs and their language. Kumbaya!
And where did that get them?
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