Photo: Michoacan tomb (INAH)
Archaeologists have discovered a tomb more than 1,000 years old in the western state of Michoacan, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, announced.
The find of the funeral chamber, in which are buried the remains of an unidentified person along with 19,000 beads of green stone and shell, is one of the most outstanding results of the Michoacan Special Project for archaeological research and preservation, INAH said in a communique.
INAH is carrying out the project in the archaeological zones of Tzintzuntzan, Ihuatzio, Tres Cerritos, Huandacareo and Tingambato, and it was in the latter that the tomb was found in July 2011.
According to INAH experts, the complexity of the chamber’s architecture and the wealth interred within it, all of which date from the Classical period from 200 to 900 A.D., indicate that it contains the remains of a high-ranking personage.
Archaeologist Melchor Cruz, the coordinator of the dig, said that the characteristics of so-called Tomb 2 and the items within it show that the large city nearby must have had greater importance in the pre-Columbian history of the region than has been recognized to date.
“It could be a government center from the Mesoamerican Classical period in the central region of what today is Michoacan,” he said.
In 1979, another such tomb - called Tomb 1 - was discovered by archaeologist Roman Piña Chan in Tingambato.
Cruz said that the number of shell beads in the burial chamber indicates the possible relationships among the ancient inhabitants with the peoples of the coast, and therefore it can be inferred that this was a strategic point along a trade route to the Cuenca de Patzcuaro area.
According to expert studies, the tombs were built before the leveling of the land to construct the great Tingambato platform, which dates from about 450 A.D. If this hypothesis is confirmed, “the site would be more ancient that what has been proposed so far; its occupation could have begun in 200 A.D.”