Mammoth tusk used as offering during pre-Hispanic times discovered in Mexico

A 10,000 year old mammoth tusk, used in pre-Hispanic times as an offering to consecrate the beginning of a construction, was discovered by specialists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Cerro de los Magueyes, municipality of Metepec, Estado de Mexico.

Mammoth tusk used as offering during pre-Hispanic times discovered in Mexico
Investigators from the INAH Center of Estado de Mexico, found the remains 
of the extinct animal, as part of their archaeological salvage
 [Credit: Centro INAH Estado de Mexico]
Investigators from the INAH Center of Estado de Mexico, found the remains of the extinct animal, as part of their archaeological salvage. The tusks were placed in a tepetate (limestone) stratum, covered by ceramic fragments, ashes, carbon and some carbonized seeds, which is why archaeologists conclude that it was an offering placed there by ancient inhabitants of Olmec influence during the Middle Preclassic era (1000 – 400 BC).

Mammoth tusk used as offering during pre-Hispanic times discovered in Mexico
The tusk was placed in a tepetate (limestone) stratum, covered by
 ceramic fragments, ashes, carbon and some carbonized seeds 
[Credit: Centro INAH Estado de Mexico]
“Over this offering, the inhabitants placed floors and walls in order to edify. In the Valle de Toluca archaeologists have found mammoth remains, as well as in the municipality of Metepec, but never an offering such as this, which is the first of its type in the region”, said Maria del Carmen Carbajal Correa, who was responsible for the salvage.

Mammoth tusk used as offering during pre-Hispanic times discovered in Mexico
Burial with offering of the Middle Preclassic period (1000 - 400 B.C.) 
 [Credit: Centro INAH Estado de Mexico]
To archaeologist Paz Granados Reyes, who also participated in the salvage labors, the offering discovered in the hill is extremely important because it is a very early “building” tribute, since it was made in the Middle Preclassic era.

Mammoth tusk used as offering during pre-Hispanic times discovered in Mexico
Pottery found during the rescue dig [Credit: Centro INAH Estado de Mexico]
“Being almost three meters (9.84 feet) long, the remains were carried to the hill from the marshlands. The appropriation of this element must have had ritualistic meaning, since it was given great symbolic value from nature and used as an offering”, explained archaeologist Maria del Carmen Carbajal.

Mammoth tusk used as offering during pre-Hispanic times discovered in Mexico
The walls of the structure were adapted to the natural terracing of the hill 
 [Credit: Centro INAH Estado de Mexico]
Another finding registered in Cerro de los Magueyes (to the east), are the walls that date back to the Middle Preclassic era. “This is meaningful because the elements are the first vestiges of architecture in the whole Valle de Toluca”, added the investigator Paz Granados.

El Cerro de los Magueyes, a sacred place 

• This region, which belonged to Valle de Toluca from the Preclassic era (1000 BC) to the Late Postclassic period (1521 AD), groups with Olmec influence were present; in the Classic period some groups from Teotihuacan arrived, and during the Postclassic they hosted groups of Malatzincas and Mexicas.

• In 1993, at the top of the hill (north), archaeologist Maria del Carmen Carbajal Correa found a cemetery with the remains of Matlatzincas and Mexicas, which leads investigators to conclude there was cohabitation among these groups during the Late Postclassic.

Source: INAH via Art Daily [July 18, 2014]

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