The discovery of children’s graves reveals the poverty of the survivors of the Aztec Empire

The discovery of the graves of four pre-Hispanic Mexican children provided insight into the harsh living conditions that followed the fall of the Aztec Empire.

Named after the property where the excavations took place, the Argentina 95 project was carried out in La Lagunilla, a district in the historic center of Mexico City, formerly known as Cotolco, belonging to Atzacoalco, one of the four territories of Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire. In the 16th century, the Spanish conquerors began to build on the ruins of the city.

Investigators from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) discovered the remains and said the smallest child, likely an unborn child, was found in a womb-like vessel with two bowls ceramic.

It was a funerary practice that hoped to return the child to the womb, according to Juan Carlos Campos Varela, archaeologist in charge of the excavations.

Detail of skull pathology, found at 95 Argentina Street in the Lagunilla neighborhood of Mexico City, Mexico.
Juan Carlos Camos Varela, INAH/Zenger

Although none of the graves showed signs of ritual sacrifice, the bone remains of the oldest infant showed signs of severe malnutrition.

The largest offering, consisting of five small vessels, two spindles and a blue figurine of a woman with a girl on her lap, is said to have belonged to a girl aged 6 to 8.

Aztec child remains
On the whole, the most complete offer is that of the child of 6 or 8 years.
Meliton Taia, INAH/Zenger

Experts have found traces of a settlement dating from 1521 to 1620 as well as early colonial walls built on top of pre-Hispanic walls, which were used to push residents to the outskirts of the city.

Away from prying eyes, they continued to practice acts of resistance, such as funeral rituals, for the next 20 to 30 years.

A total of 200 items were recovered, including toys, whistles, plates, coins and medals.

Last year, to mark 200 years of Mexican independence, Pope Francis apologized for the “very painful errors” of the Catholic Church in the country, a decision criticized by the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who maintained that Spain had brought freedom, civilization and Catholicism to the American continent.

Historians estimate that 80% of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America died in the late 16th century at the hands of the Spanish conquerors due to battles, exploitation and epidemics brought to the continent.

Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica consisted of seven major societies credited with important inventions such as the concept of zero.

These complex cultures practiced trade and competed for influence in the region with their theories on politics, art, religion and technology.

Aztec Empire Artifacts Discovered in Mexico
Experts have found traces of a settlement dating from 1521 to 1620 as well as early colonial walls built on top of pre-Hispanic walls, which were used to push residents to the outskirts of the city.
Meliton Taia, INAH/Zenger

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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