(ORDO NEWS) — It turned out that the pre-Columbian civilization of the “fugitive relatives of the Maya” – the Huastecs – was far from being as backward as previously thought.
During excavations leading up to the construction of a major highway, archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico (INAH) uncovered tombs and remains of residential buildings from the classical Mesoamerican period (250-900 AD).
They included a couple of huge circular stone foundations or platforms and more than a dozen human burials.
The researchers reported that buildings and burials were left behind by the Huastecs.
This is a people belonging to the Maya language group, but living mainly in the northeast of the modern territory of Mexico, quite far from the other Maya.
The stone foundations are tentatively dated to 600-900 AD. This is the last part of the classical period.
Both platforms consist of earth backfill using masonry including limestone and basalt.
They are round – here it must be said that the architecture of the Huastecs generally stands out among other Mesoamerican buildings precisely with rounded shapes, including those of step pyramids.
The diameter of the first platform is 30 meters, and the second is 20 meters.
According to researchers, the purpose of these structures was to protect the eternal resting places of especially important Huastecs: inside, archaeologists found human remains.
In one building, the skeletons of three adults were found, who were once buried together and possibly at the same time.
Before burial, they were adorned with amazingly elaborate shell and green quartz earrings, some of which were shaped like flowers.
Other graves found in round foundations were individual burials. In most cases, the dead were buried in a sitting position.
One of the individual burials is especially noteworthy: it looks like a barrow within a barrow.
After death, an adult male was placed inside a separate limestone capsule, which, in turn, was located in a larger structure. This indicates the high status of the buried.
In addition to burials, a large amount of ceramics, grinding stones and tool tips were found at the archaeological site of El Naranjo.
From this, scientists concluded that in front of them is not a specially allocated cemetery. Most likely, this place was a large settlement of the Huastecs, who buried their dead near their homes.
The classical period is considered the time of development and prosperity of many civilizations of Mesoamerica. But as previously thought, this did not apply to the Huastecs.
Although in the early period, distant relatives of the Maya contributed to the art, architecture and religious cosmology of pre-Columbian civilizations.
For example, according to some researchers, the concept of the great god Quetzalcoatl actually originated among the Huastecs in the 1st millennium BC.
Then, according to historians, there was a period of decline of their civilization, and they reached the peak of their power and influence only after the fall of the great city of Teotihuacan and the sudden decline of the Mayan civilization, in the so-called postclassical period (1200-1500 AD).
The Huastecs lost their freedom and independence in 1450 when the Aztecs conquered their lands. And after the fall of the empire of Montezuma II, they were almost completely destroyed by the Spaniards.
It is curious that the Aztecs considered the Huastecs to be savages, but warlike. It was on this that the opinion of historians about some cultural backwardness of the Huastecs was based.
Findings in El Naranjo, according to archaeologists, change everything. The elaborate decorations and fine pottery could not have been made by the savages that the Huastecs are usually portrayed to be.
Obviously, in the late classical period, their civilization did not experience a strong decline.
It is during this period that characteristics appear (funeral customs, styles in ceramics, building practices) that centuries later, in the Postclassic period, will be associated with the cultural tradition of the Huastecs at the peak of their power.
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