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Excavation of Aztec Town Reveals Evidence of Violent Encounters

Thursday, January 21, 2021

TECOAQUE, MEXICO—The Guardian reports that a team of researchers led by archaeologists Enrique Martínez Vargas and Ana María Jarquín Pacheco of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History have found evidence of the 1521 Spanish attack on the town of Tecoaque, which is also known as Zultepec. In 1520, the residents of Tecoaque captured a convoy made up of Spanish men, women, and children and hundreds of their New World allies, held them prisoner, and sacrificed them over a period of about six months. In the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, the name Tecoaque translates to “the place where they ate them.” Vargas said the team members found the bones of Spaniards that had been carved into trophies, in addition to decapitated, dismembered, and burned Spanish remains bearing butchery marks. Traces of defensive works suggest the people of Tecoaque expected the Spanish to retaliate. And indeed, Hernán Cortés sent forces under the command of Gonzalo de Sandoval to attack the town in revenge. The skeletons of a dozen women and ten young children were found on the town’s main thoroughfare, in addition to hacked bones found inside the town’s buildings. The temples were burned and the statues were decapitated when the town was sacked, Vargas added. To read about remains of the home of Cortés that were recently unearthed in Mexico City, go to "Around the World: Mexico."

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