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The recent finding of 37 Huasteca human burials in Tamtoc Archaeological Zone, San Luis Potosi, indicates that between 1100 and 1200 AD part of the population suffered severe infections that led to physical deformations, as marks on the bones reveal.

Archaeological and physical anthropology studies conducted by experts from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) determined that it was a population sector distinguished from the rest, since all skeletons that present pathologies have been discovered at the northern area known  as La Noria, where the monolith known as Monument 32, associated to fertility, is located.

Archaeologist Estela Martinez Mora informed that as a product of the field season that took place from February to April 2009, 27 skeletons were found, which sum to 10 more recovered in 2008. The entire human remains sample is integrated by 67 individual, with 30 remains located in previous years.

Archaeologist Martinez explained that parting from the physical anthropology analyses performed by Patricia Hernandez, from the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH) Postgraduate program, to the 27 remains with evidence of deformation, it has been determined that this population suffered severe infections.

“On every individual’s bones were identified marks and deformation produced by this kind of pathologies. Until now, population with these features has only been found in this part of the site”, declared Martinez, who coordinates the “Origin and Development of Urban Landscape in Tamtoc” Archaeological Project jointly with Guillermo Cordova Tello.

Advances of this research were presented in the 15th International Colloquy of Physical Anthropology “Juan Comas”, organized by INAH, the Mexican Association of Biological Anthropology and the UNAM Institute of Anthropological Investigations, taking place in Merida, Yucatan, from October 18th to 23rd 2009.

The archaeologist pointed out that this information is important because it increases knowledge regarding the ancient inhabitants of this site. “To present, the only hypothesis raised is that they were people with severe health problems. This made them different and for some reason they were buried in La Noria area. Nevertheless, we need a larger sample and more studies to establish a theory about ancient population at Tamtoc”.

An important contribution of physical anthropology to Tamtoc research is that the La Noria area was associated to the feminine energy due to the representation of Monument 32 or Lunar Calendar, and because most of the burials there were female’s. Archaeological elements present differences in the periods they belong to.

“The monolith dates from 600 BC and the burials from 1100 and 1200 AD. The 27 tombs recovered in 2009, plus 10 more from the 2008 season, revealed that the area was not exclusive for women, although they predominate, because we found remains of men and children of approximately 3, 6 and 13 years”.

Burial were found in a zone with tumulus or mounds with a 50 centimeters diameter and 30 or 40 centimeters high. The space where tumuli were found is a corridor with an east-west orientation, possibly related with the sunset.

“Not all the burial mounds correspond to an entombment: we dismounted 14 structures and recovered 27 individuals’ rests; we think this space was reused because there are osseous fragments of other skeletons removed”, explained the archaeologist.

Burial mounds date from the Post Classic period (1100-1200 AD), corresponding to the last stage of occupation at Tamtoc, declared Martinez Mora, indicating that the 20 per cent of the tumuli area has been explored.

In the next season, to be conducted between October and December 2009, we expect to excavate the other 80 per cent, which will allow us to count on with a larger sample of osseous rests.

Other archaeological vestiges found are projectiles, necklace beads, pendants and bracelets.

Archaeologist Guillermo Cordoba commented that other important aspect of the project is the consolidation of a team formed by physical anthropologists, archaeologists and a historian, focused on the study of social development at Tamtoc.

“This is important because if we do not have a precise knowledge of what happened in this city, it does not make sense for visitors. We have to give it a meaning”, he expressed, after announcing that the concept for an introductory hall at the site is being developed.