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New discoveries near ancient Mogollon city

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Archaeologists from Brigham Young University (BYU) have been excavating a farming hamlet called San Diego near the Mogollon city of Casas Grandes, also called Paquimé, both located in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Casas Grandes is attributed to the Mogollon culture, one of the major prehistoric Southwestern cultural divisions of the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico.

The culture emerged during the archaic period around AD 200, with construction at Casa Grandes occurring between AD 1130 and AD 1300. The initial settlement started as a group of 20 or more single storey house clusters, each with a plaza and enclosing wall.

After being burned around AD 1340, Casas Grandes was rebuilt with multi-story apartment buildings built of adobe, I-shaped Mesoamerican ballcourts, stone-faced platforms, effigy mounds, and a market area.

About 350 other, smaller settlement sites have been found in the Casas Grandes area of influence which extends around 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the city.

For the past 10 years, BYU researchers have studied a lesser-known time, the Viejo period, which predates the main era of Casas Grandes at the site of San Diego. In 2019, they uncovered the floor of the largest known communal structure from the Viejo period, a 9-metre-diameter building large enough to house 30 to 40 people.

Recent excavations at San Diego have found 1,000-year-old artefacts, consisting of ceramics, hammer stones, maize kernels, and a shell bead transported 250 miles from the Pacific Ocean, suggesting long distance interactions between the people of Casas Grandes and faraway cultures.

The team has employed some advanced technology to document their discoveries, including robotic surveying instruments that map artefacts with millimetre-level precision, survey-grade GPS, and unmanned aerial systems that take images of the site from the sky.

Professor Mike Searcy from BYU said: “Every shovel full of dirt that we pull out is providing new data on the ancient people who thrived in the desert.

The new excavations have enabled the researchers to learn about the resilience and ingenuity of the people living at the San Diego site, including the settlement’s organised building efforts to construct the communal structure.

BYU

Header Image – Casas Grandes – Image Credit : HJPD – CC BY-SA 3.0

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Archaeology

Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

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A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”

Mitla is an archaeological site associated with the Zapotec culture, located in the Oaxaca Valley in the present-day state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

The Zapotec civilisation emerged in the late 6th century BC, originating in the Central Valleys of the Etla. The culture was centred on the settlements of Oaxaca, San José Mogote, and Mitla, with the city of Monte Albán serving as the civic-ceremonial centre.

At its peak, the Zapotec had a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, having developed sophisticated construction techniques, a writing system, two calendar systems, and complex agricultural cultivation.

In 2016, the Lyobaa Project, an institutional collaboration led by the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) employed ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), and ambient seismic noise interferometry (AIRSA) to explore potential archaeological features beneath the San Pablo Apóstol church, built atop the Zapotec ruins in Mitla.

Image Credit : Lyobaa Project

According to local legend, the church was constructed on an entrance way to an underground labyrinth, serving as a passage between the realm of the living to the realm of the dead, referred to as Mictlán in Nahuatl, meaning the “place of the dead” or “underworld.”

In 1674, the Dominican chronicler, Francisco Burgoa, described Spanish missionaries entering the labyrinth: “Such was the corruption and bad smell, the dampness of the floor, and a cold wind which extinguished the lights, that at the little distance they had already penetrated, they resolved to come out, and ordered this infernal gate to be thoroughly closed with masonry.”

As part of phase two of the Lyobaa Project, the researchers have identified buried architectural complexes and a series of corridors during a study of the Calvario, Arroyo, and del Sur groups within the archaeological zone.

The Arroyo group, located in the central area of the site has three quadrangle features connected by tunnels that likely date from AD 1200 during the Late Postclassic period.

The project also conducted a survey of the quadrangular plaza where the San Pablo Apóstol church was constructed on the remains of a pre-Hispanic temple. Beneath the plaza the researchers found that there are four mounds with clay internal cores.

Archaeologist, Denisse Argote, said: “We were able to determine that, although the core of the stepped structure is solid, the foundation of the historic church requires short-term intervention to guarantee its conservation, so measures must be taken to ensure its structural stability.”

“There are cracks in the historic building, since it does not have a foundation and, underneath, in what corresponds to the remains of the pre-Hispanic building, it seems that there are areas with small cavities,” added Argote.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : INAH

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Discovery of a Romanesque religious structure rewrites history of Frauenchiemsee

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Archaeologists from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation have announced the discovery of a Romanesque religious structure on the island of Frauenchiemsee, the second largest of the three islands in Chiemsee, Germany.

According to the researchers, the structure holds important religious significance, suggesting it might have been erected to venerate Blessed Irmgard (also known as Irmengard), the daughter of King Louis the German and the great-granddaughter of Charlemagne.

During the mid-9th century, Irmgard was appointed the first abbess of Frauenwörth Abbey, who restored the decaying premises and founded a Benedictine convent for nuns. Because of her royal ancestry, she had the right to wear a thin golden hoop resembling a crown, often depicted on paintings and frescoes with her image.

Following her death in 866, Irmgard was venerated and her head reliquary was translated to Seeon Abbey in 1004. She was officially beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI, and a celebratory ceremony in 2003 saw her relics reunified.

A recent geophysical study to locate the demolished remains of the Church of Saint Martin has revealed the imprint of a Romanesque structure completely absent from all historical text and contemporary maps.

Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

The structure is buried at a depth of 1 metre and measures 19 metres in diameter. The GPR results reveal the floor plan of an octagonal central building with an ambulatory formed by eight supports and four arrange in a cross shape.

Mathias Pfeil of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation notes that religious structures with pre-Romanesque or Romanesque architecture, particularly those with sacral significance, are exceedingly uncommon north of the Alps. Such edifices are often perceived as imitations of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

According to the researchers, the structure was likely built during the construction of the new monastery and Romanesque abbey church (of which the gatehouse and bell tower survive to this day) to venerate Irmgard as a destination for pilgrims

Header Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

Sources : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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