Ancient Burial Complex Found in Mexico, Among Biggest Ever
Created: 2012-08-03 05:02 EST
Archaeologists in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca have discovered a 1,100 year-old funerary complex at the Atzompa archaeological site, about 3 miles from the state capital of Oaxaca City.
The funerary complex is comprised of 3 rooms, one of which features ancient Zapotec murals in a style of painting previously unseen in Oaxaca.
Archaeologist Eduardo Garcia says the funerary complex's sheer size ranks it among the biggest tombs ever discovered in Mexico.
[Eduardo Garcia, Archaeologist]:
"The dimensions of this tomb are exceptional. Also, it is inside a building, so all of the building could be thought of as part of the tomb. This is perhaps one of the biggest tombs in Mexico."
The discovery, with its ancient imagery inside the burial complex, is a boon for archaeologists.
Garcia says the construction of the network of chambers, which includes a third room still to be explored by archaeologists, makes experts believe the structures were built over a long period of time.
[Eduardo Garcia, Archaeologist ]:
"The complex architecture may not have been planned. It was initially planned to function as a tomb but it grew in stages. First, the work behind me and the final work in the upper part was carried out. It grew bit by bit but it resulted in a complex architecture with a series of modifications that we are identifying."
Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) believes that the burial site may have been intended for distinguished members of the local society.
Experts consider the Atzompa site - which was founded between 650 AD and 900 AD - to be a satellite city of the larger archaeological site of Monte Alban, one of the earliest and most important cities of Mesoamerica.
Mexican archaeologists first excavated at Atzompa in 2009, revealing several large shrines and elaborate structures as well as a 45 metre ball court used to play an ancient Mesoamerican ballgame.