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Mexican experts found a cemetery a few thousand years old in the state of Sonora that has features never seen before in that region and extending the zone of influence of the Mesoamerican peoples, said archaeologists from the Institute National Anthropology and History (INAH).
A mere 300 meters from the village of Onavas, southern Sonora, was an outdoor grave site, the first pre-Hispanic cemetery,of that state found with burials composed of 25 individuals, 13 of whom have intentional skull deformation, INAH said in a statement.
Five individuals with cranial deformation also have dental mutilation. These cultural practices are similar to those of pre-Hispanic groups in southern Sinaloa and northern Nayarit, but had not been recorded in Sonora, detailed the Institute.
Some skeletons wore ornaments made from shells and snails found in the region of the Gulf of California. They were bangles, a nose ring, earrings, pendants and necklaces of shell beads. Also, an individual was buried with a turtle shell placed at the height of the abdomen.
The INAH said that the burials were not accompanied by offerings.
For archaeologists, the discovery is relevant evidence of practices that were not recorded in the old Sonora cultural groups: cranial deformation (frontal occipital) was applied to 13 individuals, and modification by the wear of the side of teeth to give them a “V”.
“The area meets the unique finding that mixed expressions of groups of northern Mexico, as the use of ornaments made from sea shells Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California), with Western traditions never before found in Sonoran territory” , said archaeologist Cristina Garcia Moreno.
Garcia, director of the research project, which is conducted by Arizona State University, USA, with approval of the INAH Archaeology Council, said: “With this discovery extends the limit of influence of Mesoamerican peoples farther north: than had been recorded archeology” by previous archaeological finds.
The archaeologist noted that no other archaeological site in Sonora have been found where modifications are identified by cranial and denta mondificationsl, nor have they been seen in the southwestern United States, which shares the cultural area with Sonora.
“The closest cultural groups who developed these traditions are in northern Sinaloa and the National Wetlands area (southern Sinaloa and northern Nayarit), who incorporated their culture some Western customs and Mesoamerica,” he explained.
However, he said, “Cemetery Onavas not in migratory Mesoamerican groups, but one who had a sedentary local development and that at some point in its history established contact with Mesoamerica and incorporated some ideas into their culture.”
He explained that according to historical sources, the site must have belonged to the old Pima Indians, the region’s cultural group whose descendants moved to what is now the Sonora-Chihuahua state line, and could be part of a settlement located in the area of traffic that followed the western coastal towns in the southwest U.S. which traded in turquoise.
“And in that transition, the Pimas adopted new traditions from Mesoamerica,” he explained, adding that the datings performed on human remains Epiclassic match the Mesoamerican period (900-1200 AD).