ASU archaeologist comments on rare Aztec burial discovery
Anthropologists in Mexico City recently unearthed the skeletons of more than a dozen people dating back about 700 years.
The remains, some of whom are children, are Tepanec, an Aztec ethnic group from the west side of the Valley of Mexico. Though investigation into the causes of death is ongoing, a number of the relics bear injuries indicative of human sacrifice.
Ceremonial and everyday artifacts were also recovered from the site, which is considered an important find because few Aztec burials have ever been excavated, and especially little is known about the Tepanecs.
Arizona State University archaeologist Michael Smith was tapped by National Geographic for insight.
He said the reason so little is known about the Tepanecs is two-fold. The Tepanecs oppressed another group, the Mexica, which ultimately rose to power and “systematically wrote the Tepanec empire out of the history books.” In addition, he noted that most Tepanec communities are situated beneath Mexico City, making excavation difficult.
A professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Smith specializes in the Aztecs of central Mexico. His books include "Aztec City-State Capitals" and "the Aztecs," and his latest, "the Neighborhood as a Social and Spatial Unit in Mesoamerican Cities," will be published later this year by the University of Arizona Press.