Mexico: Archaeologists claimed to have discovered a tomb with four skeletal remains dating back some 2,700 years in the ruins of a Mexican pyramid.
The tomb at the ancestral site of Zoque ethnicity in southeastern state of Chiapas, "consists of the skeletons of four individuals, two of them wearing jade, along with ceramics and other objects prized by the culture of the period", the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said.
According to experts, every element indicates the tomb "could be the oldest of its kind in all Mesoamerica", which would require a re-adjustment to the chronology of the Olmec and Maya cultures, while showing that the use of pyramids as funerary monuments "is more ancient than believed up to now".
The discovery was made my members of the Chiapa de Corzo Archaeological Project with the help of specialists from INAH, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and Brigham Young University in Utah.
The experts said that the ceramics uncovered make it possible to place the site in the middle classic period, between 700-500 A.D. Though the age of the remains are yet to be confirmed through carbon-14 dating and DNA and strontium studies of the bones.
The structure consists of a funeral chamber with an adjoining room inside one of the earlier structures "of mound 11 at Chiapa de Corzo, a six-seven-metre high pyramid with adobe stairs and a temple on the upper level", the INAH said.
Inside the tomb were found the skeletal remains of three individuals -- one of a high-ranking, richly attired dignitary about 50-year-old, a one-year-old boy and a younger girl -- who would have been placed there as the man's companions and were "possibly sacrificed", the INAH said.
The principal figure was richly adorned with jade beads, a loincloth with pearls, jade pendants of different shapes on his ankles and knees, bracelets, armbands, a mask with green obsidian eyes and a pyrite mirror, and was surrounded by 15 vessels.
In an adjoining chamber was found a fourth skeleton, of a woman, also decorated with jade, pearls, earrings, amber beads and other objects.
The archaeologists stressed that the tomb was similar to others discovered in the mid-20th century at La Venta Tabasco, one of the main hubs of the Olmec culture.
First Published: Friday, May 21, 2010, 10:26