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Posts Tagged ‘Zapotec culture’

Monday afternoon, in the middle of a fiesta at the home of Danza de la Pluma danzante Juan Pablo González Gutiérrez, a torrential downpour came to Teotitlán del Valle.

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As I’ve mentioned, rain has been scarce this rainy season — a serious situation for a community that relies on subsistence farming.

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So, despite the fact that the dirt road in front of the house became a muddy rushing river and festivities had to be put on hold for awhile as rain blew in through openings in the tented patio, this deluge was good news and people were smiling.

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Everyone, including Juan Pablo, waited patiently for the life-giving rain to let up.

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It eventually did and he was able to dance.

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On a wet patio, surrounded by 100+ proud family members, fellow danzantes, and guests, he performed his solo dance.

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Blogger buddy Chris and I felt so incredibly honored to have been invited.  It was a truly memorable experience that we will treasure always.  Muchisimas gracias to Juan and his family and all the members of the Danza de la Pluma Promesa 2016-18 for being so warm and welcoming to us over the past couple of years.  We are going to miss you!

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Buried treasures continue to be found in Oaxaca.  Mexico’s INAH (National Anthropology and History Institute) reported this week another burial chamber has been uncovered at the nearby Santa María Atzompa archaeological zone.

Current findings in the tomb include this urn, which they date to sometime between 650 CE and 850 CE.

Red urn shaped like a human face.

Photo: Red anthropomorphic urn (EFE/INAH)

Here is an English language article that reports on these latest discoveries from the site.

Mexican Archaeologists Discover Ancient Zapotec Tomb

Published at 10:06 pm EST, August 16, 2012

The tomb of a high-ranking member of Zapotec society was found at a 1,200-year-old funerary complex in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said.

Archaeologist in Zapotec tomb

Photo: Burial and offering (INAH)

The funerary complex, which has three burial chambers, was found about three months ago at the Atzompa archaeological zone, the INAH said.

Archaeologists managed to get into the third pre-Columbian burial chamber, which contained human remains that are likely those of a male, INAH archaeology coordinator Nelly Robles Garcia said.

The remains will be analyzed to determine the age, nutrition and health of the individual, as well as whether there are intentional deformities of a cultural nature.

Archaeologists found a fractured skull belonging to another individual next to the remains, leading them to conclude that it may have been an offering.

A small, black tubular pitcher and pieces of a vessel were also found in the burial chamber.

A red urn with a human face on it and other items were found in the grave, archaeologist Eduardo Garcia said.

The vessel, which is estimated to date back to 650 A.D. to 850 A.D., is 50 centimeters (1.6 feet) tall, archaeologists said.

“We are dealing with a building where the remains of people with a very high status were placed. Who they were and what role they played in Zapotec society is still to be determined based on the findings that are being made and their later analysis,” Robles said.

Archaeologists found the building, which was designed exclusively as a burial site, in late April.

The tombs are located one on top of the other and, unlike previous discoveries, are not underground.

One of the burial chambers is decorated with a mural of a ball game, a theme not found before in Zapotec funerary practices.

Atzompa was a small satellite city of Monte Alban, the main center of the Zapotec state that dominated what today is Oaxaca.

“This discovery changes the perception we had in the sense that it was not as similar to Monte Alban as had been thought but, instead, developed its own architectural expressions, such as in the case of tombs and palaces,” Robles said.

For more on the Santa María Atzompa archaelogical zone, take a look at a January 2012 article I reprinted on an Ancient Zapotec kiln discovered there.  The site is scheduled to open sometime this year.

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News of this discovery was posted on Facebook this morning by Sam, my young Zapotec friend from Teotitlán del Valle, who is currently getting his Ph.D. in Sustainable Manufacturing at the University of Liverpool.  A global village, it is!

By the way, Santa María Atzompa (mentioned below) is where I experienced a Magical and Mystical October 31st.  The article and photo are from today’s, Hispanically Speaking News.

1,300 Year Old Kiln Used by Ancient Zapotecs Discovered in Mexico

Mexican archaeologists have discovered in the southern part of the country a kiln used by the ancient Zapotecs to make ceramics more than 1,300 years ago, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said.

Clay pot in ancient kiln

The pre-Columbian kiln was discovered in the Atzompa Archaeological Zone in Oaxaca state, which will be opened to the public this year, INAH said in a communique.

It added that this is one of the best preserved ceramic kilns ever found in the Zapotec area, and noted Oaxaca’s long tradition in making pottery.

According to Wednesday’s communique, the kiln “is a link between the pre-Columbian pottery tradition and the artisanal ceramics currently made in the community of Santa Maria Atzompa, establishing the connection between today’s inhabitants and their ancestors.”

Archaeologist Jaime Vera, head of the excavation, said the kiln “is thought to date back to the first years of the pre-Columbian settlement of the area, in other words, more than 1,300 years ago, which is deduced from the ceramics found with it.”

Another element that allows the kiln to be dated is the depth at which it was found – 2.2 meters (7 feet 2 1/2 inches) – “far below the layer of stucco that covered it, and which corresponds to that era, the archaeologist said, adding that further studies will be made to confirm its antiquity.

It was in the excavation period between March and December 2011 that the kiln was completely uncovered allowing its principal characteristics to be observed: a cylindrical adobe wall and shelves for placing the objects to be fired.

The kiln consists of a cylindrical adobe wall measuring 2.1 meters (6 feet 11 inches) from the surface to the firing shelves arranged in convergent lines toward the center, and a downdraft vent in the lower part approximately 20 centimeters (8 inches) wide,” Vera said.

He said that “while today’s kilns are not identical in dimensions or shelf arrangement, they do perserve certain basic elements and the function as a space for firing ceramics.”

The Atzompa Archaeological Zone, approximately 4 square kilometers (1 1/2 square miles), existed as a small satellite village of the Zapotec city of Monte Alban during the Late Classic period (650 B.C.to 900 B.C.) when the latter’s growing population expanded beyond its boundaries.

The work to provide the Atzompa Archaeological Zone with the necessary infrastructure will continue, since it is one of the pre-Columbian sites that will be opened to the public this year, INAH said.

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