Important Pre-Hispanic Settlement Discovered in Mazatlán

Mazatlán BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of INAH.

Earthworks from a construction site unearthed a pre-Hispanic archeological zone in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Archaeologists found tombs with human bones and high-quality ceramics.

According to initial studies, the area may have been inhabited by members of the Aztatlán culture some 1,000 years ago.

According to Mexico News Daily, the site was discovered on a hill earlier this month during paving and infrastructure construction work in the Pacific coastal city.

Mazatlán site INAH BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of INAH.

The site, where “burials of unique characteristics” were discovered, was found by workers when a pipe was broken, leaving human remains in sight; after the corresponding expertise, the INAH was called to rescue them.

The space where the works are being carried out corresponds to a natural mound located in an estuary zone, whose surface was used in pre-Hispanic times to establish an occupation on a high point to avoid floods while taking advantage of the ecosystem, informs archaeologist Victor Joel Santos Ramirez, coordinator of the salvage.

Santos Ramirez, a researcher at the INAH Sinaloa Center, explains that the mound’s surface was covered with crushed shell debris to build perishable constructions on top. Under this floor were placed human burials, one of them accompanied by an Aztatlan-style vase of excellent artistry.

“A burial with these characteristics had never been found in Mazatlan before: under a shell floor and accompanied by fine ceramics since the most common in the region are burials inside pots,” explains the archaeologist.

This characteristic makes the finding relevant for the region’s archaeology, so INAH is seeking an agreement with Mazatlán City Hall to protect the site as an archaeological reserve and resume excavation work in the near future, said Santos Ramírez.

The area is being explored by archaeologist Paola Martínez Delgadillo, in charge of the fieldwork, and restoration technician Eduardo Núñez Montesinos, coordinated by archaeologist Víctor Joel Santos Ramírez.

Mazatlán site INAH 02 BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of INAH.

On May 27th, an Aztatlán-style pipe and three complete, although fragmented, vessels were found, in addition to human bone remains in a poor state of preservation due to the natural characteristics of Mazatlán’s soil.

The settlement was part of a large culture that, according to research by Alfonso Grave Tirado, also an archaeologist at the INAH Sinaloa Center and a scholar of this region, developed from 900 A.D., a date that coincides with the period of most significant social, economic and political development in southern Sinaloa and northern Nayarit, known in archaeological literature as Horizonte Aztatlán.

The archaeologist comments that surely this is not the only pre-Hispanic site in Mazatlán. There is probably evidence of an important ancient settlement in this zone, still unknown.