Category Archives: SOUTH AMERICA

Massive Gold Bar Unearthed in Mexico Was Looted Aztec Treasure

Massive Gold Bar Unearthed in Mexico Was Looted Aztec Treasure

New research on a large gold bar that was discovered in central Mexico City decades ago reveals it was part of the plunder Spanish conquerors tried to carry away as they fled the Aztec capital after native warriors forced a hasty retreat.

In a statement on Thursday, a few months before the 500th anniversary of the battles that forced Hernan Cortes and his soldiers to flee the city temporarily on 30 June 1520 Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) announced the results of the new tests of the bar.

A day earlier, Aztec Emperor Moctezuma was killed or possibly assassinated, according to the native informants of one Spanish chronicler, which promoted a frenzied battle that forced Cortes, his fellow Spaniards as well as their native allies to flee for their lives.

A new scientific analysis of a large gold bar found decades ago in downtown Mexico City reveals it was part of the plunder Spanish conquerors tried to carry away as they fled the Aztec capital after native warriors forced a hasty retreat.

A year later, Cortes would return and lay siege to the city, which was already weakened with supply lines cut and diseases introduced by the Spanish invaders taking a toll.

The bar was originally discovered in 1981 during a construction project some 16 feet (5 meters) underground in downtown Mexico City – which was built on the ruins of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan – where a canal that would have been used by the fleeing Spaniards was once located.

The bar weighs about 2 kg (4.4 lb) and is 26.2 cm (10.3 inches) long, 5.4 cm (2.1 inches) wide and 1.4 cm (half an inch) thick.

A fluorescent X-ray chemical analysis was able to pinpoint its creation to between 1519-1520, according to INAH, which coincides with the time Cortes ordered gold objects stolen from an Aztec treasury to be melted down into bars for easier transport to Europe.

Historical accounts describe Cortes and his men as heavily weighed down by the gold they hoped to take with them as they fled the imperial capital during what is known today as the “Sad Night,” or “Noche Triste,” in Spanish.

“The golden bar is a unique historical testimony to a transcendent moment in world history,” said archeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan, who leads excavations at a nearby dig where the Aztecs’ holiest shrine once stood.

Until the recent tests, scholars of the last gasps of the Aztec empire only had historical documents to rely on as confirmed sources, added Lopez Lujan.

A more in-depth and technical description of the tests performed on the bar is published in the January issue of the magazine Arqueologia Mexicana.

More Than 3,500 Copper Coins Repatriated to Mexico

More Than 3,500 Copper Coins Repatriated to Mexico

3,500 tongue-like copper coins were handed over to Mexican authorities in the United States. Mexico daily news Reported.

One of the copper coins being returned to Mexico.
One of the copper coins being returned to Mexico.

The Mexican Consulate Jessica Cascante in Miami said the coins are thought to have been used in what are now the southwestern Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacán between A.D. 1200 and 1500. 

The United States returned a collection of over 3,500 pre-Hispanic copper coins to Mexican authorities in a ceremony in Miami on Monday.

A U.S. collector acquired them in Texas at a numismatic fair in the 1960s, she said, but at that time neither Mexico nor the United States was part of a UNESCO convention that guarantees the return of such heritage artifacts to their countries of origin.

Cascante said the fragile, tongue-shaped coins, which are currently covered in verdigris, will be sent to Mexico in January.

Agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) who headed the operation to recover the coins attended the presentation ceremony along with the Consul General of Mexico in Miami, Jonathan Chait.

The collection consists of over 3,500 coins.

Mexican authorities notified the FBI of the existence of the coins in 2013 when they were taken to Spain for an auction.

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) then began authenticating the coins in order to request their return.

As both countries were by then signatories to the UNESCO convention (Mexico in 1972 and the United States in 1983), the return process was completed six years later.

Cascante did not divulge the name of the collector who obtained the coins in the 1960s, but said that he did so before it constituted a crime and turned them involuntarily.

“Now we’re just waiting for the physical material to arrive [in Mexico],” she said, adding that they are currently being packaged with the support of specialists from history museums in Florida.

This is the World’s largest pyramid, and it’s hidden inside a mountain

This is the World’s largest pyramid, and it’s hidden inside a mountain

Although Giza’s Great Pyramid in Egypt is by far the world’s most widely debated pyramid, it isn’t the biggest by a long shot. That title goes to the Great Pyramid of Cholula – an ancient Aztec temple in Puebla, Mexico with a base four times larger than Giza’s, and nearly twice the volume.

Why is the world’s biggest pyramid so often overlooked? It could be because that gigantic structure is actually hidden beneath layers of dirt, making it look more like a natural mountain than a place of worship.

In fact, it looks so much like a mountain, that famed Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés completely missed it, and unwittingly built a church right on top of it, as you can see in the image below.

To understand how awesome the Great Pyramid of Cholula is, we must jump back to well before Cortés and his army planted a symbol of Christianity on its peak.

Known as Tlachihualtepetl (meaning “man-made mountain”), the origins of the pyramid are a little sketchy, though the general consensus is that it was built in around 300 BC by many different communities to honour the ancient god Quetzalcoatl.

The pyramid was built to appease the “feathered serpent” god

As Zaria Gorvett reports for the BBC, the pyramid was likely constructed with adobe – a type of brick made of out of baked mud – and features six layers built on top of each over many generations. Each time a layer was completed, construction was picked back up by a new group of workers.

This incremental growth is what allowed the Great Pyramid of Cholula to get so big. With a base of 450 by 450 metres (1,480 by 1,480 feet), it’s four times the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

In fact, at roughly 66 metres (217 feet) tall, the pyramid’s total volume is about 4.45 million cubic metres (157 million cubic feet), while the Great Pyramid of Giza’s volume is just 2.5 million cubic metres (88.2 million cubic feet).

The Great Pyramid of Giza is taller, though, at 146 metres (481 feet) high. The ancient Aztecs most likely used the Great Pyramid of Cholula as a place of worship for around 1,000 years before moving to a new, smaller location nearby.

Before it was replaced by newer structures, it was painstakingly decorated in red, black, and yellow insects. But without maintenance, the mud bricks were left to do what mud does in humid climates – provide nutrients to all kinds of tropical greenery.

“It was abandoned sometime in the 7th or 8th Century CE,” archaeologist David Carballo from Boston University told Gorvett at the BBC. “The Choluteca had a newer pyramid-temple located nearby, which the Spaniards destroyed.”

When Cortés and his men arrived in Cholula in October 1519, some 1,800 years after the pyramid was constructed, they massacred around  3,000 people in a single hour – 10 per cent of entire city’s population – and levelled many of their religious structures.

But they never touched the pyramid, because they never found it.  In 1594, after settling in the city and claiming it for their own, they built a church – La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies Church), on top of the hidden pyramid mountain. 

It’s unclear if the Aztecs knew the mud bricks would encourage things to grow all over it and eventually bury the entire structure, but the fact that it looks more like a hill than a pyramid is probably the only reason it still survives today.

And just as well, because according to the BBC, not only is it the world’s largest pyramid, it retains the title of the largest monument ever constructed anywhere on Earth, by any civilisation, to this day.

The pyramid wasn’t discovered until the early 1900s when locals started to build a psychiatric ward nearby. By the 1930s, archaeologists started to uncover it, creating a series of tunnels stretching 8 kilometres (5 miles) in length to give them access.

This view of the pyramid was taken in the early 20th century

Now, over 2,300 years after its initial construction, the site has become a tourist destination.

Hopefully, as our ability to study important sites using non-invasive tools continues to improve, archaeologists will gain a better understanding of how the structure was built, by whom, and how it came to look so much like a mountain.

Archaeology shock: Experts discover mysterious Mayan palace lost for 1,000 years

Archaeology shock: Experts discover mysterious Mayan palace lost for 1,000 years

Ancient building found 100 miles west of Cancùn estimated to be more than 1,000 years old

Archaeological work carried out by experts “has allowed confirming the existence of a palace to the east of the main square” of the so-called architectural Group C, INAH reported in a statement.

The remains of the building six meters high, 55 meters long and 15 meters wide were identified as a large palace used over two periods of ancient Mayan history dating back more than 1,500 years.

Scholars from INAH have revealed the large palace remained in use most likely during the Late Classic (600-900 AD) and the Terminal Classic (850-1050 AD).

In addition to the ancient palace, archeologists from INAH are also excavating other structure at the central square at Kuluba. The researchers are believed to have identified an altar, the remains of residential buildings, as well as a circular structure believed to have been an oven.

Archaeologists have discovered a large palace likely used by the Mayan elite more than 1,000 years ago in the ancient city of Kuluba, near modern-day Cancun. Pictured, an archaeologist works cleaning the stucco of the Temple

In addition to the structures, archaeologists have also discovered a grave of several individuals at Kuluba. Experts will now work in order to determine their exact age and sex.

“This work is the beginning, we’ve barely begun uncovering one of the most voluminous structures on the site,” archaeologist Alfredo Barrera told Reuters.

Along with the palace(pictured), Mexican experts are exploring four other structures in the area known as ‘Group C’ in Kuluba’s central square, including an altar, remnants of two residential buildings and a round structure believed to be an oven
Archaeology discovery: The team also uncovered remains from a burial site 

Kuluba, which has now become the archeological site of Kuluba, was an important city with powerful ties to other ancient Maya cities of the region such as Ek’Balam and Chichen Itza. It is believed that Kuluba was part of a large network of trade encompassing many other ancient cities in the region.

“From data . . . and the Chichén-like ceramic materials and obsidian [found at Kulubá] . . . we can infer that it became an enclave [under the control] of Chichén Itzá,” Barrera said.

“Throughout the 20th century, Tizimín ceded most of its forest land to agricultural and livestock use. This means that the experts who are now restoring the Mayan buildings to their former glory not only live alongside spider monkeys and other species of flora and fauna but also give priority to the fact that the archaeological zone is distinguished by its natural and cultural balance” revealed INAH in a statement.

Kuluba is located not far away from the famous Caribbean vacation capital of Cancun. The name of the ancient city, Kulubá, is formed by the words “K’ulu”, which refers to a kind of wild dog, and “ha”, water.

To protect Kuluba from the climate and looting, the researchers are considering reforesting parts of the forest surrounding Kuluba. With a denser forest, the site will be better protected from sunlight and wind.

Experts have revealed that the archeological site should be opened to tourists in the medium term.

Archeological work at the site is being funded by the government of Yucatan. The people in charge of the archaeological site of Kuluba are part of a multidisciplinary project.

Stone tables found in Chichen Itza reveal unknown information on the ancient Maya

Stone tables found in Chichen Itza reveal unknown information on the ancient Maya

According to a report in The Smithsonianmag, a team of archaeologists led by José Francisco Osorio León and Francisco Pérez Ruiz of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History has found 1,000-year-old pieces of a limestone table inscribed with hieroglyphs and human figures in the so-called Temple of the Snails at Chichen Itza.

Together, the stones measure about five feet long by four and one-half feet wide. The images include possible prisoners of war tied with ropes. Osorio León said the table was carved in Chichen Itza and moved to the Temple of the Snails from another location

The stones are buried at the Snails Temple in the Chichen Viejo region, which is built-in late-terminal classics (900-1000 AD), Osorio Leon commented.

He commented on this pre-Columbian piece “was reused as a table, that is, it does not correspond to the Temple of Snails, and although it was carved in Chichen Itza, the exact place where it was placed and subsequently taken to is unknown. It is thought that the stone table served as an altar”.

López Calzada carried out the supervision of the general conservation and restoration works of the archaeological zone, in its 2019 season, which has the objective of ensuring the state of conservation of the archaeological monuments, of this important World Cultural Heritage site.

The works are carried out in the area known as Chichen Viejo, which includes monumental buildings from the Terminal Classic and Early Postclassic periods.

The official explained that “they correspond to research and rescue of sectors of Chichén Itzá that included secondary cores adjacent to the central area, including the architectural group commonly known as ‘Chichén Viejo’.

The area where INAH – Yucatán specialists currently work is located 800 meters south of the ceremonial complex of Las Monjas in Chichén Itzá, and it is connected to the main archaeological area through Sacbé 25 and Sacbé 26.

He explained that it covers an area of 150 meters north-south by 125 meters east-west, and on a walled platform there are eight main structures, three platforms, and other housing complexes. The building has six accesses, the main one in the form of a large arch with a vault and rounded walls.

The project is directed by archaeologists José Francisco Osorio León and Francisco Pérez Ruiz, researchers attached to the INAH Yucatan Center.

In addition, archaeologists Abimael Josué Cu Pérez, Alfonso Emmanuel Argueta Estrada, Cesar Antonio Torres Ochoa, Nelda Issa Marengo Camacho, among others, are also participating in this project.

More than 50 workers from San Felipe Nuevo, Pisté, and Xcalacop communities in Tinúm are contributing to return the splendor to Chichen Itza with an investment of three million pesos.

The buildings that are intervened are the “Structure of the Stucco”, the “Temple of the Sacrifices”, the “Palace of the Columns”, and “The House of the Snails”, among others that will receive cleaning and general maintenance.

López Calzada added that between January and February of next year, the 2020 Season of the Chichen Itza Archaeological Project will begin, in which more than 60 workers will be employed.