Infant burials in Mexico: Aztec customs lasted post-Conquest
Four children in Mexico were buried in the years following the Spanish conquest with rituals and grave offerings that suggest pre-Hispanic customs survived for some time after the Aztec Empire fell.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History said Monday that the burials of children ranging from a newborn to a girl between the ages of 6 and 8 were found in a working-class neighborhood just north of Mexico City’s historic center.
When the Spanish conquered the Aztec capital in 1521, they quickly expelled the native Mexica people to the outskirts of the city, reserving the center for the homes of Spaniards only.
Archaeologists estimate that the children were buried in a layer of earth that dates to between 1521 and 1620. Although the Spanish soon outlawed most pre-Hispanic ceremonies and religious practices, researchers found evidence that the children were buried with Aztec-style grave goods.
The youngest, the newborn, was buried in a pot, with other pots around it. The spherical shape of the jar was thought to imitate the shape of a uterus, and it was not clear whether the child died before or after birth.
Another offering found at the site included the bones of a bird in a blue-colored ceramic pot associated with water.
The older girl was buried with a large Aztec-style clay figurine depicting a female figure holding a child. Her skull showed signs of possible anemia, malnutrition or infection, signs that life was difficult for the indigenous people in the years after the conquest.
In December, archaeologists announced they had discovered another house on the outskirts of the city center, where 13 large ceremonial Aztec incense burners had been carefully buried, again after the conquest, suggesting that pre-Hispanic beliefs and customs persisted for some time. .
The incense burners were carefully buried in a pattern that may reference the Aztec calendar, and were covered with adobe stones, as if to hide them.
Aztec allies disfigured the remains of captured Spaniards
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