Almost 500 years after the conquest by Hernan Cortes of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, capital of the Mexica empire, archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) discovered the remains of a house erected shortly after this event.
According to the INAH’s bulletin on Tuesday, the archaeological remains were found at 17 Justo Sierra Street in the historic center of Mexico City.
Through the creation of wells more than 2.40 metres deep in this building, which dates from 1870, were found the remains of floors (soil) of basalt slabs and other elements of a house built centuries ago.
Archaeologist Raul Barrera Rodriguez, head of the Urban Archaeology Program (PAU), said that a platform was also located – barely 40 centimetres tall and 12 metres long (excavated until now) – with a north-south orientation, “which possibly belongs to the one that runs behind the Templo Mayor”, which is located in the capital’s zocalo.
|Basalt slabs, andesite blocks, and schist ashlars, and pre-Hispanic basements and floors
were used to build the houses of the conquerors [Credit: Meliton Tapia, INAH]
As a result, a team of specialists from the Institute’s PAU explored the vestiges of this platform that ran behind Tenochtitlan’s most important ritual space: the Templo Mayor; as well as those of the aforementioned house from the early viceroyalty period (1521-1620 AD).
The expert commented that this structure, which was built during the government of Moctezuma Xocoyotzin (1502 to 1520 AD), with whom Cortes met, “could form part of the eastern boundary of the sacred Mexica enclosure”.
In an open well at the northwestern end of the property, the archaeologists’ attention was drawn to “the presence of architectural vestiges corresponding to a house from the early viceroyalty period”.
|Archaeologists continue with the study of the recovered materials, among them, the remains of figurines
that represent the diverse viceroyal society [Credit: Meliton Tapia, INAH]
This was made with construction materials – consisting of basalt slabs, blocks of andesite and ashlars of tezontle (a red rock of volcanic origin) – that were reused to build houses “of the allies of Hernan Cortes”, a few years after the fall of Tenochtitlan, on August 13, 1521.
To determine, as far as possible, the characteristics of these remains, specialists extended the excavation to 3.60 metres long by 2 metres wide and 2.70 metres deep.
In this way “they found a staircase in a good state of preservation, attached to a wall 1 metre wide, which served as a lateral access to the house,” the bulletin said.
|A staircase was found attached to a wall, both denote the continuity of indigenous
construction techniques, but under Renaissance architectural patterns
[Credit: Meliton Tapia, INAH]
According to Barrera, the discovery is a “marvel” because in it are observed details like a fine stucco of lime and sand, “of typical indigenous workmanship”. “But the architectural pattern of this house is already clearly European,” Barrera said of the discovery.
“An interesting aspect that we observed in the remains of this house is that the pre-Hispanic floor was not used, but was levelled by means of fillings that vary between 15 and 40 centimetres,” he said.
After the discovery, research is now being done on the materials recovered, which range from ceramic fragments from the pre-Hispanic, early viceroyalty and late viceroyalty periods, remains of figurines representing the diverse viceroyal society and countless remains of fauna, concluded the INAH.