Monday, October 15, 2012

Tomb of a pre-Hispanic governor in Copalita

The sepulcher of an individual that (possibly) governed a place known today as Bocana del Río Copalita in Huatulco, Oaxaca, 1300 years ago, was discovered by investigators of the ceremonial area of this archaeological site. Here another 38 burials were found, some of which were individuals whom they believe part of the elite. The pre Hispanic burials were registered by specialists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH-Conaculta) during the sixth season of the investigation.
This investigation takes place in the superior façade of the site’s Mayan Temple, where the elite resided; there, archaeologists found a sepulcher made with masonry’s stone blocks of about 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) high and 1 meter (3.28 feet) wide. The sepulcher contained the skeleton of an individual, presumably of the male sex who was between 20 and 23 years old at death. Archaeologist Raul Matadamas Diaz, director of the Bocana del Rio Copalita investigation project, informed that the sepulcher –the first one that has been discovered in this site– is estimated to date back to 700 AD and although cultural affiliation has not been yet determined, it could be associated to ancient groups that were in contact with Zapotecs of the Valles Centrales in Oaxaca.
INAH’s archaeologist elaborated about the offerings found which were accompanying the skeleton, among which a severed femur believed to have been used as a baton. “This finding –he emphasized– will help understand the funerary practices of the civilizations that occupied Copalita, especially its elite from which we have no information until now”. “Around the sepulcher, we also discovered the burial of 22 more individuals, among which a female character stood out. She was the first skeleton in this pre Hispanic site that was facing the floor, which might indicate a sign of submission to the principal character in the tomb. Her skeleton had two jade earflaps and beads located in her lumbar vertebras”, Matadamas said.
The specialist at INAH-Oaxaca Center explained that over the female skeleton were four pots, one of which is a bowl decorated with a glyph in a relief that has the representation of an owl between two snakes, an image that is repeated in the contour of the piece and which is associated to ancient Zapotecs from the Valles Centrales in Oaxaca. Matadamas Diaz added that in the base of the same piece they found symmetrical figures of an alligator opening its jaws; within the jaws is the face of a man who has a scroll with a word in front of him, possibly related to cultures from the coast of Huatulco. “Said symbols will be studied in detail to see if it’s possible to elucidate through them the world view that was developed between 700 and 800 AD by groups that settled in the metropolis of Copalita, and to identify the character that is contained in the tomb” the archaeologist stated. All the material that was recovered in the archaeological zone is being transferred to the INAH Center in Oaxaca to be registered and analyzed.

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