Finding in Mazatlan reveals Aztatlan culture cults

In Mazatlan, the discovery of vessels and human skeletal remains revealed a new archaeological site of the Aztatlan culture in the urban area of the port.

Finding in Mazatlan reveals Aztatlan culture cults
New archaeological site of the Aztatlán culture found in Mazatlán. Photo: CentroINAHSinaloa

The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) confirmed the discovery of a pipe, three pots, and human skeletal remains in a poor state of preservation, revealing a new archaeological site of the Aztatlan culture in the urban area of Mazatlan, Sinaloa.

During paving and infrastructure construction works on Avenida del Delfin, north of the city, a group of workers noticed that a pipe had broken, which exposed some human remains.

Since these were ancient remains, a call was made to INAH and it was revealed that the space where the work was being carried out corresponds to a natural mound, whose surface was used in pre-Hispanic times to establish occupation.

Víctor Joel Santos Ramírez, archaeologist and coordinator of the salvage, explained that the surface of the mound was covered with rammed shell debris, underneath it hid human burials, in one of them there was an Aztatlán style vessel.

"A burial with these characteristics had never been found in Mazatlán: under a shell floor and accompanied by fine ceramics since the most common in the region are burials inside pots," said the researcher from the INAH Sinaloa Center.

Finding in Mazatlan reveals Aztatlan culture cults

At the archaeological site, an Aztatlan-style pipe, three complete vessels, although fragmented, and bone remains in a poor state of preservation due to the natural characteristics of Mazatlan's soil were found. This ceramic belongs to the Acaponeta phase (900 to 1100/1200 A.D.).

According to INAH, the settlement was part of a culture that flourished from 900 AD, which coincides with the Aztatlán Horizon, a period of social, economic, and political development in southern Sinaloa.

The Aztatlán culture settled in the west of the country during the Epiclassic period (850-1200 A.D.), in what are today the states of Nayarit, Colima, Sinaloa, and Jalisco. One of its main features was the cult of the dead through funerary urns with offerings.

This culture was characterized by the elaboration of fine ceramic pieces, with red or orange rims and black banded designs. Their main activities were hunting, fishing, and agriculture.

The researcher from the INAH Sinaloa Center pointed out that there are no more than 10 archeological sites registered in Mazatlan because most of them disappeared due to the urban growth of the port and authorities are not always notified of the discovery of ancient vestiges.

Now, INAH is seeking an agreement with Mazatlan's city hall to protect the archeological site and resume excavations in the future.