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1,000-year-old earthen pits used to process corn unearthed in Mexico


Archaeologists have uncovered 1,000-year-old circular earthen pits built into the ground at an ancient ceremonial complex in central Mexico likely to have been used to process corn.

1,000-year-old earthen pits used to process corn unearthed in Mexico
The circular earthen pits were built into the ground at an ancient ceremonial complex in central Mexico 
and were likely used to process corn [Credit: Cortesía Noemí Castillo/INAH]
Four small pits dating to 1,000-1,350 AD were discovered at the Old Tehuacan ceremonial complex in Puebla state "could be evidence of pre-Hispanic nixtamalisation work," researchers at the National Institute of Anthropology and History said.

Nixtamalising corn requires soaking the kernels in an alkaline solution, usually made with lime water, before hulling and grinding them for cooking.

1,000-year-old earthen pits used to process corn unearthed in Mexico
The pits have been dated to 1,000-1,350 AD [Credit: Cortesía Noemí Castillo/INAH]
The pits were reportedly located near kitchen areas, where comals (flat griddles used to heat food) were found. Each pit, with a diameter of 60 cm, was made from a mixture of clay and lime and could hold up to five litres of water.

Researchers ruled out the possibility that the pits could have been used to collect and distribute water, since they were separated from the site's complex rainwater gathering system.

1,000-year-old earthen pits used to process corn unearthed in Mexico
The archaeological site of old Tehuac├ín is located at the foot of the so-called Cerro Colorado and covers 126 hectares 
[Credit: Cortesía Noemí Castillo/INAH]
In that system, rainwater was stored in giant cisterns capable of holding up to 20,000 litres of water and channelled throughout the site via a network of canals that ran along the main plazas.

Source: IANS [August 19, 2016]
TANN

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