Foto: Cuzam archaeological site [Credit: Archaeologist Luis Pantoja/INAH]
Specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) identified seven new Prehispanic Maya sites and a high concentration of human burials in the town of Sitpach, located east of Merida, Yucatan.
The finding took place as result of the Merida Region Archaeological Project (Parme, by its acronym in Spanish), developed by Centro INAH Yucatan, which consists in carrying out archaeological rescue on construction sites located in urban areas and suburbs of Merida, 4 to 6 kilometers outside the city.
The new sites registered by INAH in Sitpach are Oxmul, Polok Ceh, Cuzam, Chan Much, Nichak, Tzak and Chankiuik. They are located in an area covering approximately 1,000 hectares.
In Oxmul, a large concentration of Prehispanic human burials was found: 75 individuals were buried with polychrome vessels found for the first time in the Maya region. It has been estimated that the remains date from the Terminal Pre Classic period (400 BC - 200 AD).
Archaeologist Luis Raul Pantoja Diaz, program coordinator, said discoveries and studies in urban areas and suburbs of Merida have changed dating for the ancient Maya culture: an earlier, well organized society, with an elaborate social stratification has been found.
The finding of these sites, he said, corroborates the hypothesis that Northern Yucatan was populated since 400 BC and not from the Classic period (200 - 600 AD) as originally believed. "These areas of the city of Merida were not believed to have been populated by such old Prehispanic groups, as this is land that was not productive."
Architectural structures, made of materials that prove Pre Classic intense social and economic development, were found. "Now we know that in the space presently occupied by Merida there is early architecture, ceramics, lithic and human burials, basic elements that will be analyzed in order to complete the history of this region of Northern Yucatan."
The first archaeological rescue carried out by Parme was held between 2004 and 2006, at the archaeological site of San Pedro Cholula, north of Merida, taking place several field seasons during 3 years.
As a result of this work, a polygonal protection area was defined, and several consolidated Prehispanic structures will be integrated to a residential area. A platform from the Early Classic architecture similar to that of Dzibilchaltun was restored and integrated the urban space to be admired by the public.
"Thanks to the Merida Region Archaeological Project, more than 15 sites in the urban area have been explored, out of 29 sites registered, while at the city of Merida, there are 170 registered sites." declared archaeologist Luis Raul Pantoja.
In addition to conducting research in urban areas with archaeological potential, INAH seeks to protect explored vestiges. One way is to consolidate the buildings for display to the public when circumstances allow it, as in the case of Cholula.
"The archaeological salvage work preserves these cultural testimonies, mostly in areas in development, where it is not always possible to leave architectural vestiges in the public eye."
The Yucatan INAH Center archaeologist explained that delimitation of spaces left as archaeological reserve is also an option to preserve vestiges. "In this case, architecture is re-buried after its study, and surface construction is prohibited, remaining as green areas to protect vestiges, allowing further investigation in the future."
Archaeological material recovered during the excavations is kept at Yucatan INAH Center, to be analyzed by archeologists, restorers and physical anthropologists, to accurately determine its age.
Fonte: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2011/06/more-on-mayan-archaeological-sites.html (31/05/2011)