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Pre-Columbian ceremonial center discovered on Mexico's highest peak

Researchers have discovered an archaeological site on Mexico's highest peak that could be the remains of a pre-Columbian ceremonial center, the country's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) announced on Tuesday.

Pre-Columbian ceremonial center discovered on Mexico's highest peak
Ceramic artifacts and stone objects near an archaeological site on Pico de Orizaba, the highest peak in Mexico
and the highest volcano in North America [Credit: EPA-EFE/INAH]
"The ceremonial site is the largest one (found) on the Pico de Orizaba volcano to date," INAH officials said, adding that it could be dated to the Classic or Epiclassic period, or between the third and 10th centuries.

The site, identified as "Poyauhtlan" (The place where clouds become lighter), contains decorated ceramic artifacts and stone objects, such as slate fragments, small blades and gray obsidian arrowheads.

The structure has two openings or entrances, and each one of its four side walls is 35 meters (about 115 feet) long for a total surface area of 1,188 square meters (12,788 square feet).

Given the site's altitude and architectural structure - similar to the ceremonial site atop Mount Tlaloc, in the central state of Mexico - the archaeologists said that the location was used for rain rituals.

Although the structure was first spotted in 2005 in a satellite photograph, it was not until 2017 that researchers climbed to the summit of the volcano to verify the image.

Archaeologists are continuing their research at the site, located at height of 4,200 meters (about 13,780 feet) and overlooking the Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley.

Source: EFE-EPA [March 14, 2018]


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