SANTO NOMBRE (Mexique) : Two pyramidal structures restored


Teotihuacan-Style Pyramids in Puebla Recover their Splendor




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Two structures at Santo Nombre Archaeological Site were restored by INAH.

Two 7 and 14 meters-high pyramidal structures that present similarities with Teotihuacan architectural style were restored and consolidated in Santo Nombre Archaeological Site, Puebla, as part of the work focused on the opening of the site before 2012.

The buildings known as Piramide de los Caracoles (Shells Pyramid) and Piramide de los Cascabeles (Rattles Pyramid) at the site located in the municipality of Tlacotepec de Benito Juarez, were explored and consolidated in 2010 by archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), to be added up to those restored in 2009: Estructura Sur (South Structure) and Casa del Nahual (House of the Nagual).

Archaeologist Blas Castellon, responsible for the archaeological project, announced that in December 11th 2010 works of the second archaeological season were finished at the site located to the north of Tehuacan, a strategic point of the exchange routes between the center, the Gulf of Mexico and the Oaxaca Coast in Prehispanic times. This place was occupied for more than 1,000 years, from 400 BC to 600 AD, approximately.

INAH specialists concluded the consolidation of the pyramids located at the Central Plaza and the Gran Altar (Great Altar) Plaza, where other buildings are distributed, most of them oriented to the east, towards Popocatepetl Volcano.

The Gran Altar Plaza is a conjunct of 3 temples that imitate the Teotihuacan slope-and-panel style. At this site, Structures East and South have already been restored and consolidated, while the third temple is to be intervened during the next exploration stage.

Archaeologist Castellon manifested that this conjunct had its splendor between the beginning of the Christian age and the Late Classic period (550 AD), having a ritual and private use. At the center was found a nearly 5 meters high smooth rock placed as an altar.

The East Structure, also known as Piramide de los Caracoles because an offering with 2 giant shells was found atop, was occupied between 100 and 600 of the Common Era. Seven sculptures that represent human heads with ear ornaments were found at the base of the staircase. One of them presents polychrome stucco”.

Balustrades, slopes, panels, and moulding of Teotihuacan style reveal the influence of the city in Santo Nombre as well as a close relation; “we must keep in mind that Teotihuacan was the greatest city at the Central High Plateau during the Classic period (200 to 600 AD), and it had immense influence in Mesoamerica”.

Castellon mentioned that labors at Plaza Central ended the updating of the Rattles Pyramid, “named after the finding of a young man in the middle of the structure with a green bead in the trachea as an offering and more than 60 rattles tied to his ankles”.

Piramide de los Cascabeles stands out because it has 2 accesses, one at the east and the other at the west. As part of the season’s works, carbonized maguey spines, as well as small flat bowls that might have been used in auto sacrificial practices were found; this material found deducing  occupation happened between 300 BC and 200 of the Common Era.

“Only governors and administrators had access to Plaza Central. This space is at the center of the site and is surrounded by more than 30 pyramidal structures that blocked the access to this square”, commented the archaeologist.

In spite of the Teotihuacan influence, the culture developed at Santo Nombre, Puebla, was a local civilization; “We deduce they were ancestors of Popolocas, also known as Olmecas-Xicalancas, but this has only been determined in the linguistic and cultural level until now”, declared Castellon.

He mentioned that during the third field season will be consolidated the third temple at Gran Altar Plaza, and analysis and register of pieces and osseous rests will be conducted, with the aim of enhancing the value of Prehispanic constructions at the site facing its opening to public in 2012.

Burned Prehispanic Objects

Blas Castillon mentioned that several objects found present signs of incineration, particularly at the Gran Altar Plaza, where obsidian and carved bone burins, pendants, stone sculptures, black and orange ceramic pieces, rests of prey birds and large felines, shells, fragments of ceramic figurines and a polychrome brazier that was almost totally reconstructed were found.

Nearly 1,000 amorphous flat bowls were found; from them, 500 have already been registered. They contained rests of beans, maize, squash, chili and cocoa, and might have been used to offer blood as well, but this must be determined after conducting analyses.

Archaeologists Patricia Delgado and Hugo Huerta presume that the reason to incinerate objects and vestiges may respond to a practice that had the objective of closing ritually the constructions, maybe after a cycle ended. “Inhabitants “killed” their buildings by burning offerings that were thrown to the facades”, they concluded.