Post-Conquest Aztec Altar Uncovered in Mexico City

Archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered an indigenous altar that survived the Spanish invasion of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán in 1521.

The Aztec altar was originally discovered in August near Plaza Garibaldi, the square in Mexico City known for its mariachi musicians, but Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) had only made the announcement on Tuesday after studying the site for three months.

The altar contains a pot with human ashes and was buried underneath several layers of adobe mud in a courtyard inside a home of an Aztec family, according to Mexico’s culture ministry.

Archaeologist Mara Becerra said that the inhabitants of the house were hiding the altar from the Spanish conquistadors, and that they were Mexica, the indigenous people who founded the Aztec empire.

The experts said a ritual would have been conducted at the altar “to bear witness to the ending of a cycle of their lives and of their civilization.” The battle of Tenochtitlán, which was once the capital of the Mexican civilization, is seen as the beginning of the fall of the Aztec empire.

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