Infant burials in Mexico: Aztec customs lasted post-Conquest

By Hanan Redwan Published on June 28, 2022

Four children in Mexico were buried in the years after the Spanish Conquest with rituals and grave offerings that suggest that pre-Hispanic customs lived on for some time after the Aztec empire fell.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said Monday the burials of children ranging from a newborn, to a girl aged between 6 and 8, were found in a working-class district just north of Mexico City’s historic center.

When the Spanish conquered the Aztec capital in 1521, they quickly expelled the Indigenous Mexica population to the city’s edges, reserving the center for the homes of only Spaniards.

Archaeologists estimate the children were buried in a layer of earth that dated to between 1521 and 1620. Even though the Spaniards quickly outlawed most pre-Hispanic ceremonies and religious practices, researchers found evidence the children were buried with Aztec style grave goods.
The youngest, the newborn, was buried inside a pot, with other pots around it. The bulbous shape of the pot was thought to imitate the form of a uterus, and it was not clear if the child died before or after birth.

Another offering found at the site included the bones of a bird in ceramic pot with blue coloring, associated with water.

 

Hanan Redwan

Hanan Redwan

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