A New Theory on the Number of Female Skulls on the Great Skull Rack at Tenochtitlan

April 17, 2023

INAH archaeologists have surmised that the large number of female remains on the great skull rack in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan are related to the origin myth of Huitzilopochtli. The skull rack is dated to the reign of Ahuzotl from 1486-1502 He doubled the size of the Aztec empire during his reign.

The myth of Huitzilopochtli, the solar and war deity of the Aztecs, includes the great confrontation he had with the lunar goddess Coyolxauqui. There are 655 human skulls on the skull rack. 38% of them are females. They were probably female warriors or pregnant women who had a stillbirth. Female sacrifices recreated the path of Coyolxauqui to Serpent Mountain (Mount Coatepec) where she attacked her mother Coatlicue. Huitzilopochtli was in Coatlicue’s womb, and sprang fully armed from the womb of his mother and threw Coyolxauqui down the side of the mountain.

Heritage Daily has the INAH report here:


Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Aztec News


2,000 Year Old Zapotec Murals Found in Tombs in Southern Mexico

March 17, 2023

The murals show black lines, ornately dressed figures in red and yellow hues in San Pedro Nexicho, in southern Oaxaca. They are north-east of the great Zapotec capital of Monte Alba

INAH says one mural represents a war procession and was painted in a codex style. The larges tomb was looted long ago but a golden bead, ceramic pieces, shells and green stones have been found at the site. Two tombs were found intact, and human remains there will be studied. In one tomb, 240 objects were found with Zapotec writing on stucco among them.

The tombs are dated at 200-1100 CE.

ABC Australia has the report here with photos;


Mike Ruggeri’s Zapotecs


New Research on the Use of Psychedelics in Early Nazca Culture

March 15, 2023

Researchers in Peru haver analyzed the remains of 22 individuals from the early Nazca culture (100 BCE-400 CE)at 3 Nazca sites. 4 of them were trophy heads, a child, an adult female and two male adults. They found a high level of mescaline  from the San Pedro cactus in the sacrificed individuals and in the child’s hair. This cactus is known in the Quechua language as Huachuma, meaning “removing the head.” And the child and the other three had their heads removed after sacrifice. The female adult had also been chewing coca leaves. The male heads were free of drugs since they were males capture in combat.

More recent Inca civilization gave ayahuasca to child sacrifice victims as an anti-depressant while they awaited their fate. However, as the study authors note, “this is the first proof that some of the victims transformed into trophy heads were given stimulants prior to their death.” 
The same study also found evidence of ayahuasca use among other mummified individuals from the Early Nazca Period – which ran from 100 BCE to 450 CE – and therefore provides the earliest archaeological evidence for the consumption of these two psychedelic plants.
Ayahuasca was found in the hair of two other individuals among the remaining 18. One had so much in his hair that it suggests he was a shaman. Coca was found in five others. This is the earliest evidence of the use of Ayahuasca and San Pedro ever found, and confirms the use of Coca leaves in the early Nazca culture.

The study has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Iflscience.com has the report here;


Mike Ruggeri’s Nazca Era Peru

Archaeologists Discover Wari Ritual Complex at the Pakaytambo Site in Southern Peru.

March 15, 2023

The complex has a D-shape temple on a large, monumental platform next to housing structures for officials and people linked to the Wari empire. It was strategically chosen, being between the Andean highlands and coastal valleys of Arequipa and along a prehistoric transit route with ecological and political advantages.

The pre-Inca Wari culture spanned from the 6th-10th centuries.

“Open plaza spaces like this would have allowed local communities to participate in ritual gatherings organized by the Wari,” University of Illinois Chicago postdoctoral researcher David Reid said in a statement.

Reid, who also led the study, said these ritual events “would have been critical in maintaining political authority across great distances of the Wari Empire.”

The Wari built other D-shape Wari temples that have recently been found across Peru, providing greater clarity on how the empire expanded and influenced life across the country.

The research was published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. News of the discovery was first reported by the Art Newspaper.

Artnews.com has the report here;

Mike Ruggeri’s Moche/Wari Era Peru

New Discoveries at the Great Pyramid of Cholula

March 17, 2023

The Cholula Pyramid is dedicated to the major god of the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl 

INAH is doing restoration work at the pyramid and have found an adobe core on the east side that dates to Late Classic. Broken ceramics there were braziers indicating sustained use of fire at the pyramid. A cylindrical sculpture in white stone representing Tlaloc, the god of rain, storms and fertility has been uncovered.

INAH is studying the underground level and 24 tunnels under the pyramid.

Heritage Daily has the report with photos here; https://www.heritagedaily.com/2023/02/new-discoveries-at-great-pyramid-of-cholula/146158

Mike Ruggeri’s Mesoamerica After Teotihuacan http://mikeruggerispostteotihuacan.tumblr.com

(Scroll down to Cholula)

New Huastec Site Discovered

March 17, 2023

Archeologists in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas at the Huastec state of El Naranjo have uncovered four earthen mounds. The new area was used for burials and daily activities. They have found hearths, ceramics, projectile points, and grinding stones.

Mound 4, revealed multiple burials of adults adorned with earrings made of green quartz and shells, some carved in the shape of flowers. At the larger Mound 1, researchers identified several other burials, and a grave one adult within a limestone structure.

The mounds were made of alternating layers of earth, limestone and basalt. The area was uncovered as a result of new highway construction in the area, and research will continue.

The Art Newspaper has the INAH Report here;


Mike Ruggeri’s Mesoamerica After Teotihuacan http://mikeruggerispostteotihuacan.tumblr.com

(Scroll down to Huastecs)

9,000 Year Old Remains in the Cueva de la Paloma in the Oaxaca Valley Reveal Hunter-Gatherer Diet at That Ancient Date

March 17, 2023

Archaeologists have unearthed 9.000 year old remains beneath a layer of sediment. Cave paintings, charred birds and turtles, pollen from wild plants; yucca, chile, guava, pumpkin seeds, agave leaves

Macon.com has the report here with photos;


New Discoveries at the Great Pyramid of Cholula

March 17, 2023

The Cholula Pyramid is dedicated to the major god of the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl 

INAH is doing restoration work at the pyramid and have found an adobe core on the east side that dates to Late Classic. Broken ceramics there were braziers indicating sustained use of fire at the pyramid. A cylindrical sculpture in white stone representing Tlaloc, the god of rain, storms and fertility has been uncovered.

INAH is studying the underground level and 24 tunnels under the pyramid.

Heritage Daily has the report with photos here; https://www.heritagedaily.com/2023/02/new-discoveries-at-great-pyramid-of-cholula/146158

Mike Ruggeri’s Mesoamerica After Teotihuacan http://mikeruggerispostteotihuacan.tumblr.com

(Scroll down to Cholula)

New Huastec Site Discovered

March 17, 2023

Archeologists in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas at the Huastec state of El Naranjo have uncovered four earthen mounds. The new area was used for burials and daily activities. They have found hearths, ceramics, projectile points, and grinding stones.

Mound 4, revealed multiple burials of adults adorned with earrings made of green quartz and shells, some carved in the shape of flowers. At the larger Mound 1, researchers identified several other burials, and a grave one adult within a limestone structure.

The mounds were made of alternating layers of earth, limestone and basalt. The area was uncovered as a result of new highway construction in the area, and research will continue.

The Art Newspaper has the INAH Report here;


Mike Ruggeri’s Mesoamerica After Teotihuacan


(Scroll down to Huastecs)

9,000 Year Old Remains in the Cueva de la Paloma in the Oaxaca Valley Reveal Hunter-Gatherer Diet at That Ancient Date

March 17, 2023

Archaeologists have unearthed 9.000 year old remains beneath a layer of sediment. Cave paintings, charred birds and turtles, pollen from wild plants; yucca, chile, guava, pumpkin seeds, agave leaves

Macon.com has the report here with photos;


Important Research at Mount Tlaloc in the State of Mexico

January 15, 2023

Researchers have discovered that a straight stone causeway on Mount Tlaloc, an extinct volcano, aligns with the rising sun on February 23/24. Mount Tlaloc is in the State of Mexico, where a shrine complex was built by the Mexica people. It was associated by the Aztecs with the rain god Tlaloc. And was seen as the heavenly home of Tlaloc, Tlalocan. Great rituals, offerings and human sacrifices were offered to Tlaloc at the beginning of the rainy season.

If an observer stands in the lower part of the causeway looking upwards on February 23/24, they will see the sun riding exactly in the middle of the path. The Aztec date of the New Year is February 23. They used this date to keep their agricultural calendar in line with the solar year.  

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS)

The full research paper is here;

Heritage Daily has the report here;

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Aztec News

Recently Excavated Sculpture of Xipe Toltec Placed on Display at the Templo Mayor

January 15, 2023

A statue of the Aztec deity Xipe Totec (the Flayed God), excavated in the Moyotlan quadrant of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, will go on display at the Templo Mayor museum in Mexico City. Xipe Totec was the patron god of that Aztec quadrant.  It is 27 inches high, carved from andesite. It is missing its shield. He wears a shirt of flayed skin from a sacrificed victim. It was discovered last year during excavations on Las Delicisas street in downtown Mexico City. It was buried under adobe fill, hidden from Spanish invaders.

The restored sculpture is now on display in the lobby of the museum where it will remain until April 2nd.

History Blog has the report here


Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Aztec News

New Research May Show People Moved Back and Forth From North America to Siberia

January 14, 2023

The remains of three people who died in Kamchatka, Siberia show they had North American genes. So people traveled back and forth across the Bering Sea region. Researchers studied genetic and linguistic evidence that showed folks in North America boated back to Siberia. This new DNA evidence bolsters the proof of this. The evidence from this new DNA study shows evidence of this return journey 5,000 years ago and 1,500 years ago. 

However, critics point out that the genes identified as North American comes from a group that never left Siberia but shares ancestry with Native Americans.

Ancient Siberia is turning out to be a crossroads. Altai hunter-gatherers in Siberia are related to Bronze Age people from Central Asia. One who appears to have been a shaman in the burial remans had northeast Asian ancestry. And one has ancestry from the Jomon people in Japan.

The research is published in Current Biology

Science.org has the report here.


Mike Ruggeri’s Pre-Clovis and Clovis News on Tumblr


Pedra Furada Pre-Clovis Claims Debunked

January 14, 2023

Some researchers have been claiming that they found stone tools made by humans that were in use 50,000 years ago at the Pedra Furada site in Brazil. But new research shows that Capuchin monkeys widely made and used stone tools in this area at that time. The assemblage found at Pedra Furada does not show anything beyond crude stone tools that were probably made by the Capuchin monkeys. 

The monkeys have their own rock quarries, where they selec rocks to use as hammers to crack nuts against a larger, flattened anvil rock. Rocks also come in handy for eating seeds and fruits—and the monkeys even lick the dust created from driving two rocks together, possibly as a way of adding minerals to their diets.

Stone tools assist capuchins with other tasks as well, such as digging. And the females throw rocks at potential mates as a way of demonstrating sexual interest.

All of these processes can lead to the stones breaking into smaller flaked pieces—which, the new study found, are indistinguishable from some ancient stone tools carved by early humans.
The research is published in Sage Journals’ The Holocene 

Artnet.com haș the report here:

Mike Ruggeri’s Pre-Clovis and Clovis News on Tumblr

Ancient Maya Market System Studied

January 10, 2023

Research into the K’iche led region of Guatemala shows that trade in obsidian was manage by local people through independent trade networks. And it was based on availability and craftsmanship. So it appears this is a system based on a free market. Research was done on a geochemical and technological analysis on obsidian artifacts excavated from 50 sites around the K’iche’ capital. Where did raw material come from and what were the manufacturing techniques used.

In the capital area, centralized control and managed trade was in operation. Outside the core area in conquered areas, they obtained their own obsidian and developed obsidian markets.

The research is published in Latin American Antiquity

Phys.org has the report here;


Huge New Ancient Maya Civilizational Complex Found in Northern Guatemala

January 10, 2023

A previously unidentified Maya area now 964 settlements have been found by LIDAR flying over Guatemala’s Mirador-Calakmul Karst Basin in northern Guatemala. It is dated to 1000 BCE-150 CE covering 650 square miles with 110 miles of roads. They also built a vast causeway network. There are 775 sites in the central area and 189 sites in the surrounding area. 417 cities, towns, and villages from part of a unified civilization. Patterns, ceramics, sculptures, architecture all show this unity. Thousands of workers had to be mobilized in an area previously thought to be sparsely populated.

“The labor would include lime producers, mortar and quarry specialists, lithic technicians, architects, logistics and agricultural procurement specialists, and legal enforcement and religious officials, all operating under a political and ideological homogeneity,”

Large pyramids and platforms have been identified as well as 30 ball courts. 195 artificial reservoirs and a network of canals for transporting water was were constructed.  The study is published in the journal Ancient Mesoamerica.

The report is published here;


168 New Nazca Geoglyphs Discovered in Peru

January 7, 2023

Archaeologists from Japan’s Yamagata University have discovered 168  new Nazca Lines on the Pampas de Juman in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru, the latest addition to over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures, and 70 animal and plant designs

The figures depict humans, camelids, birds, killer orca whales, cats, and snakes, and date to 100 BCE-300 C.E. Some measure just 10 or 20 feet long, which helps explain why they went undetected for so long. In comparison, the biggest geoglyphs measure about 1,200 feet across.

They conducted researcjwith drones, taking aerial photos, and conducting field surveys from June 2019 to February 2020, using high-resolution aerial photographs taken by drones. A.I. technology provided an assist in spotting and deciphering the age-old markings. The Nazca Lines can now be found across a 170-square-mile area.

only 5% of all existing Nazca lines have so far been found. These geoglyphs were created by removing black stones from the surface of the earth to expose a white sandy surface below.   it is unclear how the black stone was removed.

Some geoglyphs are in danger of being destroyed due to the recent expansion of mining-related workshops in the archaeological park.

Artnet haș the report here with many photos;


New Research into Chincha Culture Funeral Rituals in Ancient Peru

January 6, 2023

Researchers analyzed hundreds of human remains from the Chincha culture in Peru going back as far at 1000 CE in large mortuary structures to study the use of fingerprinting red pigment on skulls in funerary rituals. They found different kinds of red paint were used and only certain people were painted. Using X-ray powder diffraction, X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and laser ablation ICP-MS, techniques, they found that 24 of the samples came from iron based ochres like hematite, 13 came from mercury based cinnabar, and one was a combination. Cinnabar came from hundreds of miles away and the hematite came from local sources.

Most of those whose skulls were painted were adult males. Bones of women and children who had healed traumatic injuries and those whose skulls were modified as babies were also painted. They used textiles, leaves and their hands to apply the pigment. It appears that the painters also entered the mortuaries to paint those who had been desecrated during the European conquest

The research is published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Live Science has the report and photos here:


Researchers Study the Remains of a Spider Monkey at Teotihuacan Given by the Maya

December 10, 2022

In 2018, archaeologists found the remains of a spider monkey gifted by the Maya to Teotihuacan in Teotihuacan’s early history. Research into the remains of the monkey using DNA, radiocarbon dating, and chemical study of the diet of the monkey, researchers have reconstructed the life and death of the monkey. Spider monkeys are not native to the Mexican highlands where Teotihuacan is located. The money was found in a complex that contained obsidian projectile points, conch shells, and precious stone artifacts, 14,000 ceramic shards from a grand feast, as well as a Maya mural depicting the spider monkey.

The monkey was brought as a gift to the elite at Teotihuacan by a Maya emissaries and the monkey was given a brutal live burial sacrifice send off. The research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Science Alert has the report here;


INAH Uncovers a Large Headless Maya Statue at the site of Oxkintok in the Yucatan

December 12, 2022

Oxkintok is in the Puuc region of the Yucatán and emerged as a major centre during the Early Classic and Terminal Classic periods. They constructed large pyramids and decorated their city with an abundance of richly detailed iconography and hieroglyphics.

The city was abandoned sometime around AD 1500. There is no evidence that warfare or famine caused the abandonment.

INAH announced that during excavation work for the Maya Train, a 1,525-kilometre intercity railway in Mexico that will traverse the Yucatán Peninsula, researchers found a headless life-size Maya statue. Nicknamed “Yum keeb” — the god of the phallus or fertility, the statue is made from limestone and measures 1.65 metres tall. The statue was possibly used as an offering to the gods and was found lying on his back near a hieroglyph-laden staircase that was being cleaned and restored. Experts believe that the statue represents a human figure and depicts a prisoner of war captured in conflict.

During a press conference by INAH, archaeologists also announced that a survey which extends 254 kilometres, also detected more than 1,730 pre-Hispanic constructions, ranging from simple domestic architecture to monumental constructions for civil and ceremonial activities.

Heritage Daily has the report here;


Research at the Maya site of Tamarindito in Guatemala

December 12, 2022

Archaeologists and Epigraphers at the Maya site of Tamarindito in Guatemala left hieroglyphic tributes to themselves and a dynasty they named the “Foliated Scroll” dynasty. New findings indicate they were planning to create this dynasty by attracting followers to their site. The site was founded in 400 CE and only had 400 inhabitants. It took 150 years for the hamlet to become a power at 550-800 CE. During this time, they established a second site further north.

The dynastic leaders had to convince the non-elites to recognize their power. Archaeologists at the site have spent seven field seasons excavating and documenting all the royal inscriptions. The elite built a pyramid and large plaza on a 70 foot high hill. It would have taken 23-31 workers to build this 25 years. At its peak, no more than several thousand lived there.

The research is published in the journal Latin American Antiquity

Science News has the report here;


INAH Completes Research on Stone Masks Found at the Maya Site of Tonina

December 12, 2022

INAH has uncovered a trove of stone masks at the Maya site of Tonina  in southern Mexico. The masks were found in an around a structure called the House of the Recreation of the Universe, near a sunken plaza. They dare to 650 CE. The masks symbolize elements of the underworld, earth and sky. These masks have been uncovered since 2013. Masks missing a lower jaw represent gods of the underworld. Some makes are of gods from different cultures, such as the Central Mexican rain god Tlaloc. 

These masks were placed in storage and not announced until research we completed on them recently. 

Heritage Daily has the report here;

New Research on the Ancient White Sands Footprints

November 21, 2022

New research on the ancient human White Sands footprints which were dated by a research team to be between 23,000-21,000 years old has now been disputed by a new team of researchers from the Universities of Nevada, Kansas, and Oregon State. The original team making the claim used tiny seeds used to date the footprints using radio carbon methods. The plant seeds came from  Ruppia cirrhosa, an aquatic plant that grows underwater. These plants do not get their carbon from terrestrial sources but from dissolved carbon atoms in the water. Using aquatic plants like this for radio carbon dating is problematical. Earlier radio carbon dating of these aquatic plants were found to be only 7.400 years old in a study at New Mexico labs in 1947. Finding these plant seeds in conjunction with human footprints would subtract 7,400 years from the age of the footprints, making the footprints between 15.000-13,000 years old. Cambridge University Press published the new research here:


Heritage Daily has the report here. https://www.heritagedaily.com/2022/11/new-research-questions-dating-of-ice-age-footprints-in-north-america/145212

New Research on Parrots at Ancient Southwest Sites

November 22, 2022

Researchers led by a University of Texas at Austin team are finding out that thick billed parrots found at sites in the Southwest were captured locally and not all of them were imported from Mexico. They do not live in the US today due top habitat loss and hunting. They were abundant in the 1930’s in the Southwest from New Mexico to Arizona and northern Mexico. They live in pine forests. The researchers found that at the 10 sites where thick billed parrots have been found all had buildings made of pine timber. All had pine forests near by. They probably captured the parrots when they were gathering timber.

So the idea that all of the brightly colored parrots found in Southwest sites were from Mexico will change.

The research is published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

Eurekalert has the report here: 


The Maya site of Nixtun-Ch’ich’ in Guatemala Shaped Like a Crocodile?

November 16, 2022

Researchers at the Maya site of Nixtun-Ch’ich’ in Guatemala, dated at 800-500 BCE have proposed the city was laid out in the form of the back of a crocodile. Crocodiles represent the earth as the crocodile Itzam Cab Ain. This monster was sacrificed and dismembered at creation. It became the ordered universe.” It also represents the cosmic destroyer slain by the gods to create the surface of the earth. It is linked to fertility and re-birth. The crocodile is the base of the world tree linking the underworld, earth and the sky. Like turtles in the Maya cosmology, they are a link between the underworld and earth.

In the Maya world, Crocodiles appear on altars and public architecture and in ceramics and carved materials. Crocodile hides were worn by shamans and crocodile remains are found  in ceremonial remains. The topography of  Nixtun-Ch’ich’ has been uncovered by the researchers, and GPS has shown the layout of the site. It does look like a crocodile with its bilateral symmetry and city blocks that look like the scaly back of the animal, which appears to be shifting into the lake, the researchers say.

A defensive ditch may represent the slit throat of the crocodile done by the gods. In the mythology, there is a hole in the back of the crocodile. A cenote at the site may represent that. The researchers admit that this may be projection by the researchers wanting to see a crocodile. Others are also skeptical. The site was planned as a sacred landscape aligned with the movements of the sun

The research is published in Frontiers in Political Science

Newsweek has the report here:



LIDAR Uncovers the Immensity of the Maya site of Calakmul in Campeche

November 16, 2022

Canadian researchers, in conjunction with INAH, have used LIDAR at the Maya site of Calakmul in Campeche, the seat of the Snake dynasty  from 635-850 CE,  which dominated the Maya lowlands with a huge vassal network, have uncovered a vast network of urban construction, huge apartment compounds, some with 60 individual structures, and a very dense urban scrawl.

These were clustered around temples, shrines, and marketplaces. Calakmul was one of the largest cities in the Americas at 700 CE. Calakmul was covered with water canals, terraces, walls, and dams, for food and water.

Reese-Taylor and her colleagues on the Bajo Laberinto Archaeological Project are on the INAH TV YouTube channel.


Physorg has the report here:


Belize Cave Used by the Maya New Dental Research

November 17, 2022

Belize’s Midnight Terror Cave, which was named by locals, and was used for burials by the Maya from 250-925 CE had 118 burials of people sacrificed by head trauma is being researched Cal State archaeologists. They looked at the mouths of the victims and found blue fiber in the teeth of a few of them. It appears to be cotton. The blue pigment which would have been used to dye the cotton was used for ceremonial purposes in the Maya world. It was sometimes used to paint the bodies of sacrificial victims. Perhaps the fiber was in gags used on the victims. There is some skepticism about this claim.

The rate at which plaque forms in teeth is based on the food that was eaten and physiology. So determining where these blue fibers were trapped is hard to determine and very few teeth in the victims had any dental calculus that could be determined the researchers pointed out.

The research is published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology

Live Science has the report here:


Important Middle Woodland Canal in Ancient Alabama Analyzed

October 21, 2022

A mile long canal built for canoe travel by Native Americans between 576-650 CE connected the Gulf of Mexico to Oyster Bay and Little Lagoon in Alabama. They built dams at both ends of the canal to guard against flooding of the canal. In the winter, canoes could traverse the distance to the Gulf. In the summer, it would have been a footpath through the forest.

Middle Woodland villagers, living at Plash Island, probably built the canal to get to camps closer to the Gulf to process, smoke and dry fish and shell fish for preservation. They were not agriculturists so this was crucial to their survival.

The canal would have also been a good conduit for long distance trade from Mobile Bay to the entire southeast. And there is no evidence for a chiefly elite during this time period. So an equalitarian effort was undertaken to build the canal and constantly clean the canal out and divvy up the water.

The research was published in the Journal of Field Archaeology.
The report is here at Smithsonian Magazine


Oldest Mounds Ever Built in North America Researched

October 21, 2022

Two grassy mounds located at Louisiana State University containing thousands of charred mammoth bones and with a cosmic alignment of both mounds towards a star are among 800 mounds of this type in Louisiana

Sediment cores have been taken from the two mounds and they found layers of burned ash from reed and cane plants and burned bone fragments in the cores. Radiocarbon dating show that the mounds were built 11,000 years ago, and built up over thousands of years. The 11,000 years ago date places these mounds as the oldest ever built in North America.

8,200 years ago, the earlier southern mound was abandoned in a cold period in the Northern hemisphere which lasted 150 years. 7,500 years ago they built a second mound and reworked the abandoned mound 6,000 years ago. The mounds were aligned with the giant star Arcturus.

The research is published in the American Journal of Science by Yale University.

More information: Brooks B. Ellwood et al, The LSU campus mounds, with construction beginning at ∼11,000 BP, are the oldest known extant man-made structures in the Americas
American Journal of Science (2022). DOI: 10.2475/06.2022.02

PhysOrg has the report here:


The Great Serpent Mound and the Milky Way

October 21, 2022

Archaeologist Brad Lepper wrote an article about the influence of the Milky Way on the construction of Serpent Mound in Ohio for a special forum on cosmic influences on ancient construction. Serpent Mound represents the Great Serpent, Lord of the Underworld. In indigenous cultures, the Great Serpent is represented by the Milky Way.

Ohio has two effigy mounds, the Serpent Mound and the “Alligator” mound which represents the Underwater Panther. Wisonsin has thousands of effigy mounds built between 700-1150 CE by the Effigy Mound Culture.

Brad and his colleagues believe Serpent Mound is three separate mounds representing two figures, the Great Serpent and First Woman who is represented as a wishbone shaped mound with an oval earthwork representing her spread legs and the jaws of the Serpent. The oval is The First Woman’s womb which is the portal through which the Sun sets in the evening.

First Woman mated with the Great Serpent and acquired the Great Serpent’s powers of regeneration which she used to create all life.

Serpent Mound was built in 1100 CE by the Fort Ancient Culture who were also influenced by the Mississippian civilization centered at the site of Cahokia in Illinois

Brad Lepper is the Senior Archaeologist for the Ohio History Connection’s World Heritage Program

The forum articles are published in the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology

Columbus Dispatch has Brad’s research here:


INAH Finds 500 Obsidian Mine Shafts 31 Miles from Teotihuacan

October 21, 2022

INAH has uncovered 500 obsidian mine shafts  31 miles from Teotihuacan in the Sierra Nevadas. The obsidian was transported to Teotihuacan to workshops there. They have also found ceramic pieces and architecture with obsidian from the Teotihuacan era. Teotihuacan controlled the trade in obsidian from 100 to 600 CE. Obsidian was used in cutting, crafts, tools, rituals, and arrowhead weapons. The type of obsidian mined in these shafts was of the blue and green variety. Black and grey obsidian was used to make projectile points and knives. And in lapidary for gems.

These same mines were used bu the Toltecs and Aztecs between 950-1251 CE.

INAH has one of their great slide shows of this discovery here;


And Ancient Origins has the report here with many photos;

Mike Ruggeri’s Teotihuacan News

76 More Child Sacrifices Uncovered at the Chimu Site of Pampa La Cruz in Peru

October 20, 2022

Seventy-six more child sacrifices uncovered at the Chimu site of Pampa La Cruz with their hearts removed. All had a transversal clean cut across the sternum to open their rib cages to remove their hearts. They were buried on top of an artificial mound. So far, 323 child sacrifices have been found there, and 137 child and 3 adult sacrifices at the nearby site of Las Llamas, also with their hearts removed. They may find as many as 1,000 children. The earlier sacrifices found dated to 1100-1200 CE. The newly recovered 76 still have to be radiocarbon dated.

The Chimu built an artificial irrigation system and new agricultural fields nearby and may have sacrificed the children to sanctify these projects. El Niño may have played a role as the children may have been sacrificed to appease the gods during bad weather events.

Live Science has the report here:

Elite Craftsmen Tombs Uncovered at the Wari site of Castillo de Huarmey in Peru

October 20, 2022

Tombs of elite craftsmen of the Wari culture has been discovered at the Wari site of Castillo de Huarmey in Peru. The site is known as a site for elite burials dating to 500-1000 CE. The newly found tombs have the remains of Wari craftsmen.

Four adults (two men, two women) and three adolescent burials were discovered inside adobe brick tombs, along with their tools and supplies.

The primary burial is that an adult man who appears to have been a basket weaver based on the grave goods. He died at the age of 40. His body was wrapped in layers of fabric and buried alongside his tools of the trade: axes, knives, saws, and a cane used to make baskets. There was also beautiful jewelry, such as a gold headdress and a gold ear ornament inlaid with a semi-precious stone. The other man and the adolescents were buried with him. The two women were close by.  Archaeologists believe they may have all been related.

In 2010, Archaeologists found a royal mausoleum that housed the remains of one queen, 57 aristocratic women, six human sacrificial victims, and two guards who had their feet amputated so they could never desert their post. More than 1,300 objects in gold, silver, bronze, gemstones, wood, bone, shell, and painted ceramics were housed in the mausoleum. The newly discovered tombs of the elite craftsmen were located just below the mausoleum.

Archaeologists have named this part of the cemetery the ‘Gallery of Elite Craftsmen’.

Arkeonews has the report here with photos:

Researchers Study Mummies from Chile and Peru

October 20, 2022

Researchers used computed tomography (CT) scans to create virtual 3D reconstructions of the bodies of three mummified bodies from Chile and Peru to see how they died. One male was hit on the head and stabbed in the back. Another looks to have been hit hard in the neck dislocating his head. Their skeletons would not have told of these factors. The mummies were preserved in very dry desert environments. The mummies were dated to as far back as 1,200 years ago. One was buried with his fishing tools. The other two were buried with woven cotton and hair from llamas. The female died from natural causes.

The study is published in Frontiers in Medicine. 

Live Science has the report here:

A New Elaborate Tomb Has Been Uncovered at the Pacopampa site in Peru

October 20, 2022

A possible tomb of a religious leader has been uncovered at the Pacopampa site in Peru dating to 1000 CE. He died at age 25-35 years of age. He was buried with musical instruments and exotic artifacts. The tomb was sealed with a huge rock weighing half a ton. In the tomb, archaeologists found seashell necklaces, malachite beads, and semi-precious stone earmuffs. And they also found pututos or shell trumpets. Strums snails were found imported from far away Ecuador.

The Pacopampa complex has 12 sites within it of great importance. The tombs in the complex are dated to 2,900 years ago.

Ancient Origins has the report here with photos and a video:

Maya Ritual Drugs

OCTOBER 19, 2022

Heritage Daily has published a report on the kinds of hallucinogens the Maya used in ritual ceremonies to provide altered states of consciousness.

“They made a drink called balché from the bark of the leguminous tree soaked in honey, water, and then fermented consumed in large quantities to induce vomit, which would be collected in bags and hung around the users neck.”

“Chih made by fermenting the sap of the maguey plant. Ceramic works from the Maya Classic Period produced vessels marked with the glyph ‘chi’. References to the use of the beverage also appear in the Dresden, Borgia, Florentine, and Borbonicus codices.”

“Wild tobacco mixed with the leaves of Datura to enhance the hallucinogenic effect.” The tobacco would be selected out for very high nicotine content.

“Liquids and gas would often be used for enemas, using syringes made of gourd and clay into the rectum to intensify the effect of the drug. Maya ceramics images in which psychedelic enemas were utilised in rituals; some figures are vomiting while others receive enemas and depict individuals as they receive enemas.”

“Hallucinogenic mushrooms that contain psilocybin and psilocin”

“Nymphaea ampla causes opiate-like effects.

The Ololiuqui plant contains seeds with different alkaloids of the LSD ground into powder and then blended into a cacao beverage.”

“Bufo marinus frogs have skins which emit psychedelic properties added to beverages.”

Heritage Daily has the report here:


University of Illinois Students Helping Excavate a Site in Belize

October 19, 2022

Students from The University of Illinois along with the Belize Institute of Archaeology are excavating a site that is a neighborhood dating to 250-650 CE. They are looking at the styles, forms and decorations on pottery sherds and the walls, floors and storage and cooking vessels, agricultural tools made of chert.

One building stands out constructed of uniform stones and white limestone plaster. There are only a few artifacts. This was perhaps a community building.

They have partially excavated a platform mound with four structures at the summit. That looked over a plaza. The structures were homes of the elite.

They have found a cache of 15 stemmed points made of chert made of non-local chert.  They were unused and placed as a dedicatory cache.

The report is published by the University of Illinois New Bureau with many photos:


Large Scale Mercury Contamination Found at Maya Sites

October 19, 2022

Researchers have found high levels of mercury contamination in Maya cities. They looked at many Maya sites including at Chunchumil in today’s Mexico, Marco Gonzales, Chan b’I and Actuncan in Belize, La Corona, Tikal, Petén Itzá, Piedras Negras and Cancuén in Guatemala, Palmarejo in Honduras, and Cerén in El Salvador.

Mercury contamination was found deep in the soils of these sites. Sealed vessels filled with liquid mercury have been found at Quiriqua in Guatemala, El Paraíso in Honduras, and the former multi-ethnic megacity Teotihucan in Central Mexico.

Objects were painted with mercury contaminated paints from cinnabar. The mercury leached from patios, floors, walls, ceramics into the soil and water. Cinnabar was mined outside of the main Maya region and imported into the Maya sites by traders.

Mercury poisoning causes damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver, and cause tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, and mental health problems and obesity. Maya rulers were often shown as obese in their murals.

The research is published in Frontiers in Environmental Science https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2022.986119

Heritage Daily has the report here:


Update on the Maya Site of Sak Tz’i

September 13, 2022

Three years ago, a team of researchers located the site of Sak Tz’i (White Dog in English). It was colonized by 750 BCE. The team used LIDAR in 2019 to scout out the possible site and found it was a large unknown Maya site. There was a two year Covid deal before the site could be excavated. They have found the site was heavily fortified with stone barricades and wooden palisades. The site was mentioned in doorways lintels at Bonampak in which captives from the site were shown defeated and humiliated.

In 2019, while excavating the ball court, they unearthed a stone altar. Beneath the altar he found the spear point as well as obsidian blades, spiny oyster shells and fragments of greenstone. In Maya cosmology flint connoted warfare and the sun or sky; obsidian, darkness and sacrifice. Oyster shells and greenstone were equated with life, vitality and solar rebirth in the sea.

A 2-by-4-foot wall panel dated to 775 A.D. revealed tales of battles, rituals, a legendary flood and a fantastical water serpent described in poetic couplets as “shiny sky, shiny earth.”

“The glyphs highlight the lives of dynastic rulers such as K’ab Kante’, including when each one died, how they were memorialized and under what circumstances their successors came to the throne. In one glyph, the Sak Tz’i’ ruler appears as the dancing Yopaat, a divinity associated with violent tropical storms. The ax in his right hand is a lightning bolt, the snake-footed deity K’awiil; in his left he carries a “manopla,” a stone club used in ritual combat. The missing panel is presumed to have featured a prisoner of war, kneeling in supplication to Yopaat.”

The NY Times has the report here:

Mayan Ruler Reincarnated as God of Corn in New Discovery

September 13, 2022

INAH has discovered a stone disc at the Maya site of Tonina in Chiapas. It depicts an ancient ruler embodied by the Mayan god of corn in the underworld.

The figure appears to be seated on a throne and is wearing a jade beaded skirt along with a serpent mask headdress. It is 17 inches in diameter and 3.5 inches thick. It depicts an event in 505 CE, 260 years after the death of an aristocrat in the Maya kingdom of Po’p.

The disk places the governor in the underworld as a reincarnation of the god of maize as he is reportedly represented as dead in a kingdom belonging to a jaguar lord of the underworld.

This is just before the moment of his rebirth in the form of a corn plant accompanied by the sun. The new discovery sheds a light on the cosmic universe and the rituals shared between Po’p, located in Tonina, and the kingdom of Lakamha’ (“Big Waters”), situated in a neighboring zone called Palenque.

The two sites fought a bloody war in 687 AD that lasted for 24 years to gain control of the basin of the Usumacinta river to control the agriculture, economy and way of life in the Maya Lowlands. 

Newsweek has the report here:

Large Maya Site in the Yucatan Found by Train Construction

September 13, 2022

INAH Discovers a Large Maya Site Along the Maya Train Route in Quintana Too. It has more than 300 rooms. It is called Paamul II. There are subterranean rivers and cenotes. Divers are now working there to recover valuable artifacts.

INAH has found 25,000 immovable structures and ancient roads along the train route so far. 43 ceramic pots and 432 human bones have been uncovered.

The artifacts will be placed in museums including in a new one to be built in Merida, Yucatan.

Mexiconewsdaily has the report here:

New Research on the Collapse of Mayapan

September 13, 2022

Extended turmoil in the Maya city of Mayapan in the Yucatan was marked by population declines, political rivalries and civil conflict. That strife resulted in the complete institutional collapse and abandonment of the city  Between 1441 and 1461 CE. This occurred during a protracted drought. 

The drought may have stoked the civil conflict that begat violence, which in turn led to the institutional instabilities that precipitated Mayapan’s collapse.

“Researchers examined archaeological and historical data from Mayapan, including isotope records, radiocarbon data and DNA sequences from human remains, to document in particular an interval of unrest between 1400 and 1450 CE. They then used regional sources of climatic data and combined it with a newer, local record of drought from cave deposits beneath the city.”
The societal wekness was rooted in Maya reliance on rain-fed maize agriculture, lack of centralized long-term grain storage, minimal investments in irrigation and a sociopolitical system led by elite families with competing political interests.

Author: Shelly Leachman | Source: University of California – Santa Barbara [July 19, 2022

The report is here at archaeologynewsnetwork:

Archaeologists Claim Humans Butchered Mammoths 37,000 Years Ago in New Mexico

August 12, 2022

Archaeologists from the University of Texas, excavating at the Hartley site in New Mexico, are claiming they have found evidence of humans butchering mammoths 37,000 years ago. They found the bones of two mammoths in a large pile. Carbon dating the collagen in the bones gave a date between 36,250-38,900 years old. The archaeologists claim that the bones had been handled by humans. Some bones look like they were made into human knives. Other bones look like they were broken by blunt force, and puncture marks on the ribs perhaps made by humans to get to nutrients.
A boulder and some first sized rocks could have been used to break the bones. There could have been a controlled fire which researchers say cooked the mammoths, along with smaller animals and fish. Crystallized ash in the sediment could have come from a fire to cook the mammoths. The researchers at the site used high-resolution CT scans and scanning electron microscopy.

But scientific critics of this claims are pointing out there is no definitive evidence of human activity. Weathering, trampling, sediment layering, landslides can cause this kind of damage to bones. There is no unambiguous human tool and no human remains at the site, no evidence of humans directly at all.

The research was published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

(My note; I always look to absolute proof of humans being involved such as human DNA evidence, Human bones or teeth, actual human tools, some kind of human habitation proof. No research like this can withstand the critiques without this kind of evidence. Pre-Clovis sites have been proven at Monte Verde in Chile and Paisley Cave in Oregon and perhaps the Page-Ladson site in Florida, but the proofs there are far more extensive and prove human activity at these Pre-Clovis sites. The research at the Hartley site is far from proven.)

Livescience.com has the report with photos here:

Mike Ruggeri’s Pre-Clovis Discoveries News

Two Large Olmec Limestone Relief Sculptures of Scowling Olmec Rulers Discovered in Tabasco.

August 12, 2022

UNAM has reported to INAH the discovery of two large Olmec relief sculptures of Olmec style faces that had been carved in Tabasco. They are made of limestone and have similar iconography. They weigh 1543 pounds and date to 900-400 BCE.

The faces contain this iconography according to INAH;

“In the upper part and surrounded by celestial jaws, a diadem formed by four corncobs stands out, and in the center, a mirror with the so-called “Olmec cross”. ” (glyph that marks the attire of the elite and is associated with the figure of the jaguar); footprints can be seen on the sides; in front, the arms crossed and, in the middle part of the scene, the face from which the “grumpy mouth” stands out, which alludes to the roar of the jaguar.” 

The sculptures come from the Middle Usumacinta region and represents scowling Olmec rulers.

INAH has the report here (translated into English)

Mike Ruggeri’s Olmecs

(Scroll down to Olmec Iconography)

LIDAR Uncovering Vast New Maya Discoveries in Guatemala

August 8, 2022

Archaeologists in Guatemala are using LIDAR to reveal a whole new Maya world that had been hidden from view by dense jungle foliage. LIDAR has allowed archaeologists to see through the jungle to reveal vast new areas of Maya occupation, uncovering hidden pyramids, monumental structures, whole expanses of Maya settlement. A site called El Zoitz was thought to have been a small town. LIDAR has now shown El Zotz is 40 times larger than what was thought with roads radiating from its center to outlying villages;

Near El Zotz, they have uncovered cacao fields showing agricultural specialization for the purpose of trade. LIDAR has uncovered a wall built at El Zotz to fight off attackers and a large cache of stones for ammunition.They have found a site they call La Cuernavilla which was a fortress. La Cuernavilla includes a temple, palace, housing platforms, a moat and a massive wall some 25 feet high. One side is protected by a sheer cliff, and the other is strategically fortified with defensive terraces. A watchtower sits nearby, part of a newly discovered defensive network that spreads throughout the entire Maya lowlands.

It’s the first time archaeologists have found Maya structures built expressly for warfare, and it implies an unexpected level of military engineering. And it appears that the fortress was an outlying defensive barrier for the site of Tikal. And these new LIDAR generated findings show the Maya society to be much more hierarchical and organized than ever before.

Discoverymagazine.com has a very detailed report here with many photos. https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/the-lost-world-of-the-maya-is-finally-emerging-from-the-jungle

New Research at the Mississippian Capital of Cahokia

August 5, 2022

Researchers using paleoenvironmental analysis at the giant Mississippian site of Cahokia in Illinois, which exploded into prominence at 1050 CE and thrived for 300 years, was thought to have had four large plazas on the north, south, east and west which surrounded the very large temple known as Monk’s Mound, have found that the north plaza was almost always underwater. Cahokia was built on a flood plain beneath the confluence of the Missouri and Illinois Rivers.

The north plaza is built at the lowest elevation of the site. Two creeks ran through it and it flooded when the Mississippi swelled after heavy rains. The research team extracted sediment cores at the north plaza, took soil samples and analyzed carbon isotope in the soil and found that the area was wet all year. Water was important to Cahokia since they grew wetland plants and traded up and down the Mississippi. Their religious vision would probably have included water in their creation stories.

The chief researcher, Caitlin Rankin, from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey wrote the research paper on this find.

The National Geographic Society and National Science Foundation supported this work.

To reach Caitlin Rankin, email rankinc@illinois.edu

The paper “The exceptional environmental setting of the north plaza, Cahokia Mounds, Illinois, USA” is available online and from the U. of I. News Bureau.
DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2022.2077824

news.illinois.edu has the report here;


Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Cahokia

14,000 Year Old Skull of a Woman in China DNA Linked to Native Americans

August 4, 2022

The DNA from a 14,000 year old skull found in China has genetic ties to the east Asian ancestors of Native Americans. The individual has been named Mengzi Ren. The skull was founding Red Deer Cave in Yunnan in 1989. The skull belonged to a female Homo sapien. It took a long time for scientists to find DNA in the skull they could measure.

This is the first time an ancient East Asian genome was sequenced at the same time people were migrating into America confirming the East Asian ancestry of Native Americans.

(My note; this is the first time Clovis era folks are tied to East Asians at the time of Clovis entry. The ancestry of Pre-Clovis people entering the Americas is still a subject to research.)

The Chinese team did speculate that the folks related to Mengzi Ren traveled through the Japanese islands before entering the Americas which has been a theory for awhile, and now more provable.

The research is published in Current Biology, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.06.016

Newscientist has the report here.

Mike Ruggeri’s Pre-Clovis World

(Scroll down to Journeys)

Maya Rulers at the Maya Site of Tonina in Chiapas Cremated Remains Used to Make Rubber Balls

August 3, 2022

INAH has uncovered a pre-Hispanic crypt at the site of Tonina. There were 400 vessels in niches containing human ashes, coral, rubber, roots. A series of small vaults and rooms connected by stairways to an antechamber led to the crypt. INAH researchers found that the sulfur in the ashes were used to vulcanize the rubber to make rubber balls for the ballgame.

Three rulers dating to 500-687 CE; Wak Chan Káhk´ (died on 8 Chikchan, September 1, 775 AD); Aj Kololte’, subordinate dignitary of the Po’p dynasty (died 12 akbal 11 sotz, April 1, 776 AD) and Lady Káwiil Kaan (died 722 AD) were taken to the cave of death after 260 days, completed a cycle of the ritual calendar –and on the same date of their deaths– for their transmutation explained INAH.
Toniná, was originally called Po’p, Po or Popo in Classic Maya texts. The city is located in the Chiapas highlands of southern Mexico, east of the town of Ocosingo.

The site contains groups of temple-pyramids set on terraces rising some 71 metres above a central plaza, two ballcourts, and over 100 carved monuments that mainly date from the 6th century through to the 9th centuries AD during the Classic period.

Heritage Daily has the report here from INAH;


Intact Maya Chocolate Vessel Found in a Playa del Carmen Cave

(Photo from Heritage Daily)

July 30, 2022

INAH has uncovered a Maya style chocolate vessel in a cave in Playa del Carmen called Cueva de la Cruz. The vessel is 16 cm high and 17 cm wide. It probably belongs to the period 300 BCE-250 CE. It is reddish on the outside and black on the inside. It has a style similar to a pumpkin. “It will allow researchers to find information on style, technique, origin. Pottery knowledge daily uses, ritual practices, myths and cultural evolution.”
Researchers will return to the cave in the dry season to look for other artifacts, and to detemine more about the chocolate trade in the area.

INAH has the report here in Spanish, and when you click on the green camera icon, you will see great photo slides of the discovery.


Large Sawfish Blade Uncovered By INAH at the Templo Mayor in Mexico City

July 28, 2022

INAH has uncovered a 39 inch sawfish blade in a stone box at the Templo Mayor. The box also contained 11,800 other ceremonial objects. This is the largest of the 78 sawfish blades found so far. The Aztecs revered the fish as a hybrid of sea and earth. Earlier in 2018, they found the carcass of a wolf dressed in gold armor. The wolf was given ear and nose ornaments and a pectoral of gold. It symbolized a human warrior with its head facing west as a companion of the sun in its journey to the underworld in the evening

Archaeology.org has the report here;


And the earlier wolf report here:


Mike Ruggeri’s Aztec News


New Maya Genome Research in Belize

July 15, 2022

Researchers have found that half of the Maya genome is from populations arriving 5,600-4,700 years ago from Chibchan speaking peoples living between Costa Rica and northern Columbia.
The researchers analyzed DNA from two rick shelters in southern Belize. They re-introduced maize into Mexico in this area, and evidence shows that maize consumption jumped 4.700 years ago. The new migrants introduced new agricultural knowledge that led to intensive agriculture by the Maya.

According to a new study, more than half of the modern Maya genome is derived from ancient populations who migrated to the Yucatán Peninsula from southern Central America and South America at least 5,600 years ago. A team led by archaeologist Keith Prufer of the University of New Mexico, geneticist David Reich of Harvard University, and archaeologist Douglas Kennett of the University of California, Santa Barbara, analyzed DNA from human remains recovered from two rock shelters in southern Belize. They discovered that a group of the individuals whose remains were radiocarbon dated to between 5,600 and 4,000 years ago are ancestors of present-day Chibchan-speaking populations that live between Costa Rica and northern Colombia. “These people moved into the area in fairly small numbers over a period of perhaps five hundred to one thousand years and mixed with local populations,” Kennett says.

Archaeology.org has the report here;

New Research on the Ancient Yucatan Maya

July 15, 2022

An international team of researchers researching the ancient coastal Maya populations at Vista Alegre and Conil in the Yucatan. On the small island of Vista Alegre, they have uncovered pole and thatch buildings with a pyramid like structure 43 feet tall. The Conil site was encountered by the Spanish who said it had 5,000 houses. They are using cores from the sediments on the coast to determine how rising oceans interfered with drinking water at the sites. They theorize there were springs nearby that were drowned by rising seas. A drone with a thermal camera is looking for past freshwater areas.

They have uncovered thousands of pottery sherds, spindle whorls, and obsidian revealing an extensive trade network based on long distance canoe trade networks. Obsidian came from as far away as central Mexico. 20,000 animal bones of sharks, rays, turtles, gastropods. LIDAR surveys will begin soon looking for house mounds and pyramids.

The research is published here:
Rescuing ancient Maya history from the plow
More information: Jeffrey B. Glover et al, The Proyecto Costa Escondida: Historical ecology and the study of past coastal landscapes in the Maya area, The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology (2022).  DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2022.2061652
Provided by Georgia State University   

Phys.org has the report here:

INAH Finds Proof of Red Painted Roofs at the Maya Site Palenque

July 15, 2022

INAH has been working on a Palenque preservation project in Chiapas for four years. They have restored four buildings within the Palenque main palace. They have uncovered a fragment of the original red paint on House D confirming the roofs of the palace were painted red. The red pigments for the paint were a mixture of minerals including iron oxide. The red paint was discover in the 1960’s and then covered one with cement to preserve it. And it was not recorded.

This area was for surveillance to control the palace entrance and to maintain the palace roof.

Newsinseconds.com has the report and photos here;

Research Team at the Maya Site of Yaxnohcah Discovers Advanced Maya Resource Use.

July 15, 2022

Researchers used genetic and pollen analyses at the Maya site of Yaxnohcah in the Yucatan (1000 BCE-200 CE) to date wild and cultivated plants there. A team from across North America 
collected and analyzed 38 soil samples, finding evidence of wild trees and plants growing near the city. 

The ancient Maya left much of the rainforest intact. But in other areas, researchers found evidence that the rainforest had given way to savanna dominated by pine trees that persisted for 1,000 years, perhaps from repeated slash-and-burn agriculture or from soil conducive to their growth.

Researchers also found a large diversity of plants the ancient Maya grew for food, fuel, medicine and construction, including maize, chili peppers, squash, manioc, and cotton. Along the city’s former stone-faced garden terraces, created to take advantage of rainfall, they discovered evidence of a wide variety of crops including avocados, hog plums, fruits called sapotes, matasanos and squash.

The study concluded that deforested parts of the rainforest quickly recovered, showing the resilience of the ecosystem over time. 

UC geography professor Nicholas Dunning said,  “The findings mirror those we found at Tikal and paint a picture of the ancient Maya as fairly conscientious forest managers. But we also found evidence of periods and places of environmental degradation in the form of accelerated soil erosion.”

Yaxnohcah was occupied for more than 2,000 years and no doubt faced intermittent natural disasters such as droughts or manmade ones like the depletion of resources that required resilience and creative solutions.

UC’s analysis also identified ancient paper and ink, which was used in a variety of Maya products, including clothing, adornments and ancient manuscripts known as a codex. 
The Maya used dyed paper cloth in adornments as well as in headpieces. They also used special paper in ceremonies, for example, to absorb blood, then burned as an offering to various gods.

The research was published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

uc.edu has the report here;

Huge Hidden Chambers and Passageways Being Studied at the Chavín de Huántar Site in Peru

July 13, 2022

Archaeologists have found hidden passageways and galleries inside the Chavín de Huántar in Peru. These were probably used for religious rituals using psychedelic drugs. Sensory deprivation and religious chambers were in the larger galleries.

“These are stone-lined passageways, corridors, rooms, cells, and niches, big enough to walk through, roofed with stone beams.” Built in stages between 1200 BCE-200 BCE.

36 galleries and their associated passageways have now been found at Chavín de Huántar over 15 years of excavations. The latest network was detected only a few years ago and was not explored until this year. They were found in 2019. The complex was a center for the Chavin culture. The site is 10,000 feet high and the largest Chavin religious site.

Passageways led to a main gallery with two ritual stone bowls, one decorated as a condor. The two bowls were probably used to grind psychedelic drugs. 

There was a tradition in Chavín to inhale hallucinogenic snuff made from seed pods of the vilca tree, which contain a powerful hallucinogenic substance that includes dimethyltryptamine, or DMT.

Major excavations wil begin soon.

Live Science has the report here:

Remarkably Preserved Wooden Figure Found at the Site of Chan Chan in Peru

JULY 13, 2022

A perfectly preserved wooden figure has been uncovered at the Chimor culture Chan Chan site in Peru. Chan Chan is the largest mud brick city in the Americas dating to 850 CE-1470 CE.
At 1200 CE, 100,000 lived at the city.

The figure is 46 centimeters long and 16 centimeters high and represents a human figure with a trapezoid-shaped hat decorated with seven vertical stripes of alternating light and dark colors.
The nose protrudes from the plane of the face and the figure has almond-shaped eyes and circular ears with a black resin inside that would have served to affix mother-of-pearl plates.
The character appearing to be a porter who carried high priests, dignitaries, and sacred objects.
Its torso, arms, and hands appear to have been painted red, and dark circular spots can be seen on its chest. 

In addition, the character wears a triangular skirt, the edge of which is decorated with small rectangular bands, similar to those of the hat. Its legs are straight and its feet are set apart, and the fronts of them have been partially cut or broken off.

The Ministry of Culture also said that nectandra seeds were also recovered that would have formed a necklace (some have thread inserted), and under the sculpture a small black bag with brown and white thread decoration was recorded.

The report is in ancient-archeology.com;

INAH Uncovers 2,500 Aztec Wooden Objects at the Templo Mayor in Mexico City

June 25, 2022

INAH has uncovered 2,500 wooden objects at the foot of the Templo Mayor in Mexico City. INAH says they have found masks, headdresses, sceptres, pectorals, darts, figurines, dart launchers, earrings, jars, and numerous wooden offerings that the priests deposited to consecrate the site to the Aztec gods. The finds were stabilised using synthetic sugars (lactitol and, later, trehalose) which prevents the breakdown of the wood by microorganisms and fluctuations in relative humidity.

The objects have survived due to the anaerobic conditions in the soil and the high level of humidity that has persevered them for more than 500 years. The researchers applied modern methods of conservation in which the finds were stabilised using synthetic sugars (lactitol and, later, trehalose) which prevents the breakdown of the wood by microorganisms and fluctuations in relative humidity.

The finds are then rinsed in water and placed inside a heat chamber with temperatures of 50°C. This slowly dries the wood and allows the controlled crystallisation of sugars that generates a thickening of the cell walls at a microscopic level.

Many of the objects have traces of colours such as blue, red, black, and white pigment on the surface.

Excavations of the ritual deposits have also uncovered botanical remains such as flowers, birds, mammals and marine animals, sea cucumbers, copper and gold objects, and flint and ceramic pieces.

Heritage Daily has the report here;

INAH Archaeologists Discover a large sculpture of the Maya Maize God in Palenque, Chiapas

June 25, 2022

A 1,300 year old sculpture of the Maya Maize God has been uncovered at the Maya site of Palenque, in Chiapas. The discovery was made last July but just announced. The sculpture was placed over a pool a stuccoed floor and walls, honoring the entrance of the Maize God to the underworld. It was placed in an east-west position “which would symbolize the birth of the corn plant with the first rays of the sun,” INAH said. It is dated to 700-850 CE. 

INAH said that vegetable matter, bones of various animals including turtles, quail and domestic dogs, shells, crab claws, ceramic pieces, miniature anthropomorphic figurines and pieces of obsidian blades and seeds among other items were also deposited in a closed-off compartment where the sculpture – which lay hidden for about 1,300 years.

“Some animal bones had been cooked and others have … teeth marks,” he said, explaining that indicated that meat was eaten by the inhabitants of Palenque as part of a ritual.

The maize god head was exposed to humidity and is currently undergoing a process of gradual drying, INAH said, adding that it will subsequently be restored by specialists.

Mexico News Daily has the report here:

And here is a You Tube Video of there find;

LIDAR at the Purepecha site of Tzintzuntzan in Michoacan Uncovers 1000 New Monuments

June 25, 2022

INAH used LIDAR technology at the Purepecha site of Tzintzuntzan in Mochoacan to find 1000 new monuments there. A few dozen monuments were known before. New pyramids, terraces, platforms and residential dwellings have been uncovered. More use of LIDAR will uncover even more. INAH said the new discoveries are just the tip of the iceberg.

Mexico News Daily has the report here.

New Important Structures Uncovered at the Maya Site of Xiol in the Yucatan

June 25, 2022

INAH has uncovered places, workshops, dwellings and a large public square at the Maya sire of Xiol in the Yucatan built between 600-900 CE. The architecture is in the Puuc style which is rare in the northern area where this site is located. 4,000 people lived here. And it is 15 miles from Merida. More discoveries are expected at this site,

Mexico News Daily has the report here:

3D Scans Reveal Largest Cave Art in North America

May 30, 2022

Researchers have found mud drawings in a limestone cave in Alabama mad by torchlight bearing artists 1000 years ago. This is not of the largest rock art creations in North America. 3D photogrammetry was used to reveal the art. 5,000 square feet of art has been revealed by researchers lying down inside the cave chamber to 3-D the art. The artists would have done the same. There are thousands of engravings. Now that this discovery has been made, there will probably be others found.

3D photogrammetry IS an emerging technology that creates three-dimensional models based on overlapping photographs. The researchers used a digital camera, LED lights, and a photo rig alternatively set up on the dry cave floor or in patches of knee-deep water. They found 16.000 images.
Then it required uploading and processing each 50-megapixel photo into a larger 3D model. (The sheer amount of data “melted our first computer,” Alvarez says.)

Many of the figures are life sized. A rattlesnake drawing was 11 feet long, the largest piece of cave art ever found.

The drawing naked to the human eye date to 100 CE-1100 CE. This find shows that rock art in the Southwest was as large as rock art in the Southwest.

Researchers will be racing to find more such cave art work using this new technique. Just touching the art work can erase it.

National Geographic has the story here with many breathtaking photos;

13,000-Year-Old Red Ocher Quarry Found in Wyoming

May 30, 2022

Researchers have found a red ochre (hematite) quarry in the Rocky Mountains, Wyoming. The mining is dated tt 12,480-12,505 years ago at the Powars II site. This mine is now the oldest hematite mine found in the Americas. Clovis points have been found there with other projects, tools and shell beads, animal bones and antlers. The site was mined for 1000 years. Some of the projected points came from as far away as Texas. The mined hematite found its way across North America. Further excavations are planned.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Spencer R. Pelton et al. 2022. In situ evidence for Paleoindian hematite quarrying at the Powars II site (48PL330), Wyoming. PNAS 119 (20): e2201005119; doi: 10.1073/pnas.2201005119

Sci-news has the report here:


May 22, 2022

Research into Mesoamerican Dental Inlays

Mesoamericans inlaid teeth with jade, turquoise and pyrite by drilling holes in the teeth, and then applied a sealant to cement the stones in place. More than half of the stones found in these skulls are still intact. How the bond was formed was a mystery. Researchers in Mexico have studied eight teeth found in Maya burial sites. They have found 150 organic molecules that are in plant resins. There are pine tree resins found which can also prevent tooth decay. Salvia plant resins that have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties have also been found, and mint plants that have anti-inflammatory effect

Co-author of the study, Vera Tiesler, a bioarchaeologist at the Autonomous University of Yucatán, points to Janaab’ Pakal, the Maya king of Palenque, who died in 612 C.E. at the age of 80 with nearly all his teeth and no signs of decay in those that remained—a tribute to the remarkable dental skills of his people.

The research is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reportsnone

Science.org has the report here:


May 21, 2022

Aztec Chinampas Dwelling Uncovered in Mexico City

An Aztec dwelling has been uncovered during construction in Mexico City. It dates to 1200-1520 CE. It spans 4,300 square feet. It was part of a residential and agricultural center with channels and a jetty used for chinampas farming in floating gardens. Funerary vessels were found containing the remains of infants, burials with an offering of censers, whorls and spinning tools. A stone statute of a man wearing a loincloth which is 23.5 inches tall. 

Live Science has the report here:


May 21, 2022

The Oldest Evidence of the Maya Calendar found at the site of San Bartolo in Guatemala.

The oldest evidence of the Maya calendar has been uncovered in Guatemala dating to 300-200 BCE at the site of San Bartolo, in the jungles north of Tikal. Two mural fragments with the 7 Deer day sign were among the 249 fragments of painted plaster and masonry blocks excavated at the site. This shows the Maya calendar was in use for at least 2,300 years.

The fragments were radio carbon dated as the team found 7,000 mural fragments. The 7 Deer fragments were part of 11 wall fragments that were analyzed by the team. There may be older calendar artifacts but they are in stone carvings which cannot be dated.

Live Science has the report here:


May 22, 2022

INAH Uncovers the Remains of a Huge Number of Animals Consumed at a Feat at the Maya site of Palenque in Chiapas

INAH has uncovered hundreds of animal remains, seeds, over a kilo of coal, shell beads, and green stone at a palace at the site of Palenque in Chiapas. They used water floatation and a fine sieve. Most of the remains are of fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and a small amount of birds, reptiles, mammals. Land snail, apple snail, freshwater crab, mojarras, tenguayaca, white bass, quail, white turtle, nine-banded armadillo, domestic dog, cervid and white-tailed deer have been identified.

These remains are part of a banquet and the remains deposited in cavities that were burned and covered. This banquet would have taken place between 200-900 CE. The finds help us to understand the Maya diet at the time.

Infobae has the report here with photos:



May 21, 2022

INAH Confirms 150 Human Skulls Found in a Chiapas Cave Was a Result of an Ancient Ritual

A pile of 150 human skulls found in a cave in Chiapas, Mexico 10 years ago. Police feared this was a cartel massacre of Guatemala migrants. INAH Archaeologists have now found that the skulls date to 900-1200 CE. The victims were beheaded and were most females, and all were missing teeth. The find was probably a tzompantli or trophy rack with skulls placed along wooden panels. The wooden sticks have also been found. This is not the first cave in Chiapas where similar skull finds have been made.

The New York Times has the report here with a photo:


May 21, 2022

INAH Uncovers a Complete Maya Pottery Piece During Train Line Construction

INAH has uncovered a Maya a complete pottery piece while constructing a train line in the region dating to 600-800 CE. It has a glyph band identifying the Maya lord Cholom. It is related to the site of Oxkintok in the Yucatan. 80,000 fragments and 42 complete pieces have been recovered while the train line is being constructed.

The Yucatan Times has the report here with a photo:

New Child Sacrifice Research in Peru

April 13, 2022

Researchers in Peru conducted toxicology tests on a hair strand and fingernails of two children and found they had been drugged during sacrificial rites. The remains are 500 years old. They were given ayahuasca and cocaine. The children were sacrificed to the gods to avert natural disasters. In this study. The children were sacrificed in the Ampato volcano.

The research is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science

Natureworldnews has the report here;


This practice was earlier reported with the discovery of three Inca mummies also found in a volcano in Argentina. Three girls aged 13 and younger were selected out for sacrifice a year before their deaths. Using biochemical analysis of the hair of the children showed consumption of coca and alcohol. The children were separated from their parents and put under the care of priestesses. They fed the children elite food like maize and llama meat. In the last 6-8 weeks of life, coca and alcohol use surged. Chewed coca leaves were found in the mouth of the 13 year old. The children were put into a stupor before their death. They were brought to a high altitude and buried with spondylus shells from the coast, feathered headdresses from the Amazon, figurines of gold and silver.

The study was published in the PNAS journal.

National Geographic published that report;


Ancient Sican culture surgeon’s tomb uncovered in Lambayeque

April 13, 2022

Archaeologists have uncovered the tomb of a Sican culture surgeon in the Lambayeque region of Peru. The surgeon was buried in a lotus flower position sitting cross legged. He was surrounded by knives, needles and tumis. The tomb is dated at 900-1,050 years old. The tomb was in a ceremonial temple. He wore a golden mask and he was a specialist in cranial trepanations. This procedure was done to remove hematomas and remove fractured skull pieces incurred in combat.

The tomb artifacts included a golden mask with feathered eyes, a bronze breastplate, and surgical instruments such as tumis or knives with a crescent-shaped edge (made of a mixture of gold and silver), dozens of knives with wooden handles, awls and needles. The bark of an unknown tree was found that would be one of the plant species used as an analgesic or infusion.

The tomb is in the Huaca Las Ventanas which began excavations in 2010-11. The Sican culture spanned 700-1375 CE. 

infobae.com has the report here;


Trepanation in the Ancient Andes

April 13, 2022

Researchers in the Peruvian Andes have uncovered 1,000 year old skulls showing the practice of trepanation. 32 skulls were uncovered and gave evidence of 45 separate procedures, all the skulls of men. It was forbidden to do this on women or children. Trepanation began as a practice at 200-600 CE. The Peruvian surgeons evolved their practice with new drills, cutting and scraping tools. They studied on skulls of the dead. They can see that patients survived after this surgery since bone grew back after the procedure.

Research leader Danielle Kurin said, “We can see where the trepanations are. We can see that they’re shaving the hair. We see the black smudge of an herbal remedy they put over the wound.”  She used radiocarbon dating and insect casings to determine how long the bodies were left out before they were mummified, and multi-isotopic testing to reconstruct what they ate and where they were born.

The research is published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology

Smithsonian has there report here with a photo;

Huge Starfish Offering Found at the Temple Mayor in Mexico City

April 11, 2022

INAH has found 164 sea stars placed in the Temple Mayor. Coral, seashells, pufferfish, animal bones and a female jaguar skeleton holding a spear in its claw. They were an offering to Huitzilopochtli, gods of war 700 years ago. Patterns on this species of starfish look like jaguar pelts. They came from 186 miles east, and the coral came from the same distance west. They were re-creating an aquatic environment in the Aztec capital city. Aztec leader Ahuizotl conquered those territories from 1486-1502. Ahizotl added a sixth layer to the Temple Mayor where the offering was found.

Smithsonian has the report here:

Major Research Find on South American Migrants Impact on the Early Maya

April 10, 2022

Jaime Awe has done a study on two rock shelters in the rainforest of Belize. 85 skeletons have been unearthed at those rock shelters, 50 of these individuals have been radio carbon dated to 1,000-9,600 years ago. Geneticists then studied these remains and obtained high quality DNA from the inner ear bones of 20 of these individuals. They found that the oldest individuals in this group lived 9,600 to 7.300 years ago. This is the oldest DNA from any rain forest rock shelter. These resemble hunter-gatherers coming in an ancient migration from the north. But at 5,600 years ago, the DNA shifted and showed these individuals came from individuals living from Columbia to Costa Rica who are Chibcha speakers. 

The Maya got half of their DNA from the southern immigrants, the remainder from the most ancient settlers who emigrated from the north and some from the Mexican highlands. Other researchers studied the teeth of the rock shelter people. The teeth showed a steady increase in maize consumption over time. Between 5,600 to 4,000 years ago, maize consumption soared to 50% of the diet. Maize was partially domesticated 9.000 years ago in southwest Mexico, but not fully domesticated till 6,500 years ago in Peru and Bolivia. These southern migrants brought their fully domesticated maize to Belize 5.600 years ago.  

Thus it was migrants from South America who were responsible for kicking off the Maya civilization.

Science.org has the report here.

Archaeologists Excavate Giant Stone Spheres in Costa Rica

April 10, 2022

Archaeologists have excavated six stone spheres created by the Diquis culture at the Costa Rica site of Finca 6. The spheres were deteriorating due to humidity, floods from hurricanes and tropical storms. The team cleaned and stabilized the spheres with edging and patching with lime-sand mortar to increase hardness and to place protective layers of mortar on the spheres. The spheres were re-buried under gravel and sand to protect against temperature and humidity and to prevent vegetation carrying acid to the spheres below.

Heritage Daily has the report here;

Hopewell Influence Stretches to the Great Plains

April 10, 2022

The Hopewell Interaction Sphere was a social network that stretched across across eastern North America from CE 1-400. Seashells, copper, and mica and other raw materials were traded within this network. People within the network adopted copper ear ornaments and drilled bear teeth as cultural symbols. Drilled bear teeth were found in a field in eastern Kansas similar to teeth in Hopewell sites in Ohio and Illinois.

Recently, these teeth have been studied. There are 14 teeth in the collection from Kansas and they were made into a necklace. They will research whether these belonged to Ohio bears, and perhaps a pilgrim from Kansas obtained them from a Hopewell site. If they are Kansas bears, perhaps the necklace was made in imitation of bear necklaces seen by a Kansas pilgrim at a Hopewell site. But the fact that these were found in the Great Plains shows the extent of Hopewell influence.

The great Brad Lepper reported on this in the Columbus Dispatch;

24,000 Year Old Tools Found in Beringia Studied

March 13, 2022

Humans were hunting mammoths, bison, caribou in Beringia, a land mass that once connected Siberia to Alaska 24,000 years ago. Archaeologists at the Blue Fish Caves have found perhaps the oldest proofs of this ancient age. Archaeologist Lauriane Bourgeon is studying the collection gathered so far from the Bluefish Caves, tools and 36,000 animal bones. She has found cut marks made by humans on 15 of these bones dated at 23,500 years ago. 

Most of the bones were from Beringian horses that became extinct 14,000 years ago. These Beringian horse bones are found with few tools and no hearths. So the Bluefish Caves appear to be temporary camps.

Most of the Beringian human dwelling places are now underwater. The few places now posited as possible human dwelling places will have to be further tested for the age of the stone tools found there. 

(My note; It is important to remember that these finds are in what was once Beringia. The dates where Beringians may have actually entered into Alaska are still debated. So these are not the First Americans as much as they are the first Beringians. The oldest sites for the entry of the First Americans are much further south, and had to be reached by canoe voyagers long before the Clovis entry in Alaska.)

Hakai Magazine has the report here:

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INAH Uncovers Two Temples at the Tehuacán el Viejo Archaeological Zone in Puebla

March 12, 2022

INAH has uncovered two pre-Hispanic temples in the Tehuacán el Viejo archaeological zone. The site was part of a Populaca culture cult center from 1000-1456 CE when it was conquered by the Aztecs. The city was built on the slopes of a plateau with ceremonial squares, elite housing and pyramids.

INAH has found a pyramid and altar dedicated to Xipe Totec the god of spring, new vegetation, goldsmiths. They also found a temple dedicated to Ehecatl Quetzalcoatl, the creator god, and in this guise the wind god that brings the rain.

Only 12% of the site has been excavated so far.

Heritage Daily has the report here;


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INAH deciphers Zapotec frieze at Atzompa site

March 13, 2022

INAH has deciphered an ancient frieze at the Zapotec site of Atzompa, near Monte Albán. It is a 50 foot limestone and stucco frieze dated at 650-850 CE. It depicts a quetzal bird, monkeys, jaguars and supernatural protective figures. INAH researchers discovered depictions of the Mixtec calendar’s year of the lizard, as well as the quincunx—a geometric design alluding to the four directions and the center of the universe.

INAH describes the motifs as “manifestations of the cosmic world to which the construction of [Casa del Sur] responded to.” Lead researcher Nelly Robles García says, “In general, the glyphs are allusions to power in the city, to supernatural protection, and to a time without time.”

Atzompa served as a final way station for quarried stone being transported for construction in Monte Albán. Its  hilltop position allowed it to serve as a defense against the nearby Mixtec.

The original frieze stretched 100 feet. When the Zapotecs abandoned the site at 850 CE, the frieze was partially destroyed. Funerary urns that may have been for sacrificial offerings to demystify the site.

Smithsonian has the report here with photos;


INAH has a slide show of the frieze here; Click on the camera icon;


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Researchers Locate Central Cacao Groves in the Yucatan

March 12, 2022

Brigham Young University and Mexican archaeologists  have found evidence of Maya sites chosen for the best cacoa tree plantings. They conducted soil analyses of 11 sinkholes in the Yucatan and found theobromine and caffeine biomarkers for cocoa production, ceremonial rituals construction in staircase ramps, stone carvings, altars, offerings of jade and ceramics in several sinkholes.

The team worked on a soil extraction method drying soil samples, putting the dry soil through a sieve covered in hot water, centrifuged them through extraction discs and analyzing the samples with mass spectrometry, comparing the results to seven control samples with no cacao biomarkers.

A 70 mile Maya highway  was constructed for long distance cacao trade which impacted all of Mesoamerica. In one sinkhole near Coba, they found the arm and bracelet of a figurine attached to a incense jarred ceramics modeled as cocoa pods. This sinkhole find is dated at 1000-1400 CE. Elites controlled these sinkholes since cacao beans were used as currency across Mesoamerica.

Researchers for the project also came from University of California, Riverside, the University of Miami, State University of New York, Kent State University, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, and the Cultural Heritage and Archaeology in the Maya Area institution.

The research is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports

Science Daily has the report here https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/01/220131095024.html

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Ancient Peruvian Wari Queen Face Re-constructed

March 3, 2022

The Wari timeline stretched from the 7th to 12th century. A National Geographic team explored site in 2012. A team led by the University of Poland along with a Peruvian team found a passage through buried walls, Four women, including a queen and possible princesses. 54 other elite were also found.The excavations included finding a copper ceremonial ax and a silver goblet.

A forensic expert from Sweden has re-created the face of the queen who lived at the site of  El Castillo de Huarmey. They used a computed tomography (CT) scanner to make a virtual, 3D image of the skull. The data sent the digital data to a 3D printer, which made a replica of the skull in vinyl plastic. 

It’s important to know the person’s sex, age, weight and ethnicity — factors that influence the thickness of facial tissue

The report in Live Science states that forensic expert Nilsson knew the Huarmey Queen was at least 60 years old. Armed with that knowledge, he put 30 plastic pegs all over the queen’s replica skull. After this, he sculpted the face. This was made from the ‘inside out,’ muscle by muscle.” He used plasticine clay to sculpt the muscles, relying on methods that help forensic artists reliably rebuild a person’s eyes, nose and mouth. “The ears are more speculative,” he said.

Next, he covered the muscles with a layer of skin. “Details, wrinkles and poresare sculpted to get it [to be] realistic,” he said. “When I’m finished sculpting the face, I make a mold, in which I then cast the face in silicone. In this way, I can get it very realistic.  Nilsson used prosthetic eyes in the reconstruction, as well as real human hair that he inserted, strand by strand, into the silicon scalp. “We actually used Peruvian human hair, bought in Peru by the Polish archeological team,” he noted. He even gave the royal woman metal earrings with a golden and worn patina. “They are an exact replica of her actual earrings, found in her tomb,” he said. Nilsson spent 220 hours on the queen’s reconstruction.  She looks wise [and] experienced, as well as a bit tired and maybe sad, or thoughtful,” The technique Nilsson used to re-create the ancient queen’s likeness is also used by law-enforcement agencies when a victim cannot be identified. About 70 percent of these cases are solved once a reconstruction is made, he said. “It is not a portrait of the deceased, but you get a good image of what the face looked like.” The Wari queen’s reconstruction is now on display in a new Peruvian exhibit at the National Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw, Poland.

Live Science has the report here;


Sacrificed Children Uncoverered at the ancient Peru site of Cajamarquilla

March 3, 2022

Sacrificed Children Uncoverered at the ancient Peru site of Cajamarquilla

Archaeologists in Peru, at the site of Cajamarquilla have found six mummified children and 14 others sacrificed to accompany a dead nobleman to the afterlife in a tomb. The children were wrapped in a tight cloth. They were likely sacrificed for a nobleman. They were placed at the entrances to the tomb on top of each other. Cajamarquilla was built of mud beginning in 200 BCE and occupied till 1500 CE. The mummies were buried around 1,200 years ago. Buried llamas and earthenware has also been found in the tomb.

The nobleman was about 20 years old, buried with his hands covering his face and tied up with rope.

CBS News has the report here:


New Discovery of White Pigment in Ancient Peru Changes the History of Color

March 3, 2022

1908, a lab in Niagara Falls invented a white pigment that is found in everything from plastic to pills. It is made from the chemical titanium dioxide.

In 2018, researchers in the United States discovered titanium white in 400-plus-year-old ceremonial wooden drinking cups made by the Inca and residing today in various museums. Carved with elaborate geometrical designs, the cups, called qeros, traditionally were not colored. But around the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1530, the Inca started mixing pigments, including titanium white, into resin and decorating qeros with the bright goo.

How did the Inca jump 400 years into the future? There is a deposit, the Giacomo Deposit, at the Chile/Peru border that contains titanium dioxide and silica. The qeros in the museums look like the deposits at Giacomo. This has re-written the history of color.

Smithsonian has the report here;


Chincha of Ancient Peru Threaded the Spines of Their Dead

March 3, 2022

Spanish invaders in ancient Peru looted burials to take out gold and silver from the textiles that wrapped the bodies of the dead. Local Chincha people then tried to put the bodies of their dead back together.

The Chincha were a wealthy society of 30,000 people that included fishers and farmers, known as sea-faring merchants.

Researchers have found human vertebrae carefully threaded on to reed posts in the Chincha valley of Peru. 200 found so far. Radio carbon dates show the individuals died between 1520-1550.

It is plausible the action was a response to colonial looting, but many Andean societies revisited the remains of their dead which periodically brought out their mummies and gave them drinks before returning them to their tombs.

The research was published in the Journal Antiquity


Ancient Andean Use of Hallucinogenics

January 27, 2022

Archaeologists are researching the site of  Quilcapampa built by the Wari culture in Peru (550-1000 CE), occupied between 800-850 CE. They found a pit with a million seeds of Schinus molle: Peruvian pepper used to make a beer like drink, chicha. In another post they found seeds from the Vilca tree which are hallucinogenic in nature. Drinking chicha with this substance would provide a controlled and mild hallucinogenic high. Taken without the chicha gives one the impression of flying. This hallucinogen was widely used in Andean cultures.

Wari leaders probably used this experience to guests to solidify bonds between groups in the area.

The research is published in Antiquity, DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2021.177

newscientist has the report here;

LIDAR uncovers new structures near Machu Picchu

January 27, 2022

Researchers using LIDAR at the site of Machu Picchu in Peru at the nearby site of Chachabamba, where elite groups had to stop to purify themselves in a sacred bath before entering Machu Picchu, have uncovered 12 structures, and stone channels, some underground, supplied water to people in the area. They are able to map how the water was channeled to the sacred baths.

The scientists used a type of remote-sensing technology known as light detection and ranging, or lidar, which bounces laser pulses off surfaces to detect features and map their contours. 

The team from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology in Poland and Peru’s Ministry of Culture used drones with LIDAR to peer through the forest canopy. The researchers will return to the area after COVID subsides in the region.

The research is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. 

NBC News has the report here;

Researchers studying ancient Peruvian skull with a metal implant

January 27, 2022

Archaeologists have found a 2,000 year old skull bound by metal in Peru. The skull was of an ancient Peruvian warrior. The skull is at the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma. Ancient Peruvian surgeons carried out this surgery on a badly wounded warrior. They used a metal alloy that is made of material that is unknown. 

The metal tightly bound the broken skull bones together. Often silver and gold was used for this kind of procedure.

Express.com has the report here;

Remains from Aztec New Fire Ceremony Discovered in Mexico City. 

January 15, 2022

The Aztecs had a 52 year cycle and a 260 day year. At the end of a 52 year cycle, the New Fire Ceremony took place.

Every 52 years, the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan threw away images of their gods and let the fires of their homes and temples go out. Priests would walk from the Templo Mayor (or Main Temple) to a mountain called Huixachtlan (also known as Cerro de la Estrella), on the eastern bank of what was then Lake Texcoco. There, they performed a ceremony to light the new fire. If the new fire did not alight, the belief was that the world would end – the stars would turn into monsters and devour humankind. Five days before the ceremony, the people destroyed all their household belongings, fasting and crying as they waited for the catastrophe.

The remains of one of the last New Fire ceremonies have been discovered by INAH. The investigators uncovered objects such as cajetas (a type of bowl), molcajetes (a stone tool similar to a mortar and pestle) and clay figurines.

“The pieces were found in San Fernando pantheon near San Hipólito church, in the old neighborhood of Cuepopan, which adjoins Tlatelolco, where Guerrero neighborhood is now located.

During the ceremony, the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan would throw away the figures representing deities from their home altars; and destroy all their belongings – clothes, dishes and even the tenamaztli (a sacred stone stove). Everything was burnt or thrown into ditches.

Pregnant women were locked up in farmhouses out of fear that they would turn into wild animals and children were made to walk and stay awake for fear that they would fall asleep on the fatal night and turn into rats. The house was also completely cleaned, with everything put in order, and the fires were put out, leaving complete darkness.

In the precise moment the stars passed the meridian, the priests took a wooden tool and lit a fire in the open chest of a victim who had been sacrificed for this purpose. Priests, caciques (a type of prince) and the common people became delirious with happiness. Special runners lit torches with the fire and relit the fires at the altars in the temples of all the local people.

If the world didn’t end and the stars did not turn into deadly monsters, the Mexica people would cheer up, clean up their homes, restore their temples and make new tools. As an extra sign of their appreciation, they would hold large feasts with special food and sacrifices – both of their own blood and that of their prisoners.

El Pais has the report here:


January 15, 2022

Archaeologist Sergio Gomez uncovered the tunnel under the Pyramid of the Sun in 2017. Among other finds, he uncovered 20 human skeletons arranged in a symbolic pattern.
Another 260 bodies were found to be built unto the fabric and foundation of the building.

They may have been sacrificed to the gods, or simply died of natural causes. Gómez and his team had to remove 1,000 tonnes of soil in order to access the tunnels. They believe the Aztecs likely deposited the dirt as a way to seal off any access points.

This meant that most of the artifacts found were largely undamaged and untouched by robbers. His team found more than 100,000 objects along the tunnel, 
The artefacts included a greenstone crocodile teeth, crystals shaped into eyes, as well as sculptures of jaguars.

And, the tunnel itself was lined in iron pyrite, it reacted to any light by shimmering like the night sky, a reaction likely purposefully induced by the Aztecs in order to replicate the stars.

Express.com has the update here

New DNA studies of 2,000 Year Old Mummies in South America

December 28, 2021

Scientists have recovered DNA from the skin cells on the scalp and clothes of 2,000 year old  mummies from Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador. Female lice deposit eggs in the hair of the mummies and the mummy skin cells become incased in the cement produced by the female lice. The skin cells can also elicit information about how people lived and died 2,000 years ago run South America.

These nit samples are as concentrated as DNA samples from teeth, double that of human bones, and four times as much as blood.

Their health and even cause of death can be indicated by the interpretation of the biology of the nits.

The University of Reading did the initial research.

The story is reported in Heritage Daily;

Mass Grave of Textile Artists Uncovered at Chan Chan

December 28, 2021

Archaeologists at the ancient Chimu site of Chan Chan in Peru have uncovered a mass grave with mostly women, a few children and teens buried there. They were textile artists. They were surrounded by textile tools, needles, spindles and chalk. They were buried in a seated position with legs bent, and most aged under 30. But the average life expectancy was 40. These were elite people buried here.
They were wrapped in cotton and a fabric made from plant tissue.

It is not known yet how these people died. The burial place contained people who died at different times. Some of the remains were brought from a different burial group. 

The report is here at Live Science

Strange Ancient Burials at El Rayo in Nicaragua

December 28, 2021

Archaeologists at the site of El Rayo in Nicaragua uncovered a strange gravesite with two bodies and three heads that did not belong to either body. One body was laying on its belly and was only the bottom half of the body. One looks to be a teenager with one skill in a bowl at its feet, and another skull in another pot. The three skulls were lined up on top of the bodies. Nicaraguans may be from Mesoamerica or from further south in Columbia. Or distinct people. The pottery with the heads were vessels for cacao mixtures.

There are other burial sites in Nicaragua with heads in pots. Perhaps the younger one was faced down to enter the afterlife. Both were lying on a bed of pottery sherds. Nearby was a long red stone blade. Were the bodies and skulls relatives? Was headhunting involved. Or were these bodies and skulls buried at different times. Researchers will study the heads for ethnic differences or different tribes. Trophy heads have been found in other parts of Nicaragua.

Haaretz has the report here

Complex Roped Mummy Found at the Cajamarquilla archaeological site near Lima 

December 28, 2021

Complex Roped Mummy Found at the Cajamarquilla archaeological site near Lima 

Archaeologists at the Cajamarquilla archaeological site near Lima have uncovered a mummy fully bound in ropes with its hands covering its face. It dates to 1,200 CE. The site is being threatened by urban sprawl. The mummified individual lived high in the Andes 600 years before the rise of the Incas. The tomb in which the mummy was buried has stone tools, ceramic pots with vegetable matter. The area was multi-ethnic.

The Daily Mail has the report with many photos and a video.

Salt Kitchens Researched in Belize Reveals New Evidence on Maya Trade

November 27, 2021

Heather McKillop, an anthropologist at Louisiana State University, and co-author Kazuo Aoyama, an anthropologist at Japan’s Ibaraki University, have used microscopic analysis  of 20 stone tools found in Belize at the site of Paynes Creek Salt Works and found the tools were used to chop up meat and fish. And the meat was prepared at ancient salt kitchens. It shows the Maya were producing salt in large quantities, and using salt to preserve food.The site is near a coastal lagoon with saline waters due to solar evaporation.

The team found 4,000 wooden posts that denote a series of salt kitchens. The wood is preserved in the peat soil at the site and dates to 300-900 CE. Pottery vessels at the site reveal that workers were boiling brine in pots, and collecting salt from the evaporated brine. Salt pots from three of the Paynes Creek salt kitchens seem to be standardized in dimension, suggesting that workers were packing the salt into cakes and shipping them off to be traded inland.

This new research dispels a misconception  that the Maya of Belize’s southern lowlands had to import salt from the Yucatan Peninsula because there were no salt resources nearby. On the contrary, McKillop tells Cohen, “the coastal Maya were an integral part of the Mayan economy because they produced and traded a basic commodity.

The research is published in PNAS,

Smithsonian has the report here;


Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Maya News on WordPress

New Research on Maya Agriculture

November 27, 2021

Researchers using LIDAR and drones at the border and on site inspection between Mexico and Guatemala have shown the Maya built extensive irrigation and terracing between 350-900 CE, with sustainable agriculture and no food insecurity.

For years, experts in climate science and ecology have held up the agricultural practices of the ancient Maya as prime examples of what not to do.

“There’s a narrative that depicts the Maya as people who engaged in unchecked agricultural development,”The population grew too large, the agriculture scaled up, and then everything fell apart.”

The researchers studied a triangle of land connecting Piedras Negras, La Mar and Sak Tz’i’.

They were 15 miles away from one another and these three urban centers had very different population sizes and governing power,

They modified the land to increase the volume and predictability of crop yields. building terraces and creating water management systems with dams and channeled fields. These kingdoms were not only prepared for population growth but also likely saw food surpluses every year.

By the late Classic Period, around 600 to 800 A.D., the area’s farmers were producing more food than they were consuming,”“It’s likely that much of the surplus food was sold at urban marketplaces, both as produce and as part of prepared foods like tamales and gruel, and used to pay tribute, a tax of sorts, to local lords.”

The research is published in the journal Remote Sensing.

Brown University report here:

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Maya News on WordPress

Salt Kitchens Researched in Belize Reveals New Evidence on Maya Trade

November 27, 2021

Heather McKillop, an anthropologist at Louisiana State University, and co-author Kazuo Aoyama, an anthropologist at Japan’s Ibaraki University, have used microscopic analysis  of 20 stone tools found in Belize at the site of Paynes Creek Salt Works and found the tools were used to chop up meat and fish. And the meat was prepared at ancient salt kitchens. It shows the Maya were producing salt in large quantities, and using salt to preserve food.The site is near a coastal lagoon with saline waters due to solar evaporation.

The team found 4,000 wooden posts that denote a series of salt kitchens. The wood is preserved in the peat soil at the site and dates to 300-900 CE. Pottery vessels at the site reveal that workers were boiling brine in pots, and collecting salt from the evaporated brine. Salt pots from three of the Paynes Creek salt kitchens seem to be standardized in dimension, suggesting that workers were packing the salt into cakes and shipping them off to be traded inland.

This new research dispels a misconception  that the Maya of Belize’s southern lowlands had to import salt from the Yucatan Peninsula because there were no salt resources nearby. On the contrary, McKillop tells Cohen, “the coastal Maya were an integral part of the Mayan economy because they produced and traded a basic commodity.

The research is published in PNAS,

Smithsonian has the report here;


Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Maya News on WordPress

Archaeologist at Coral Find Proof of Major Structures at Caral Were Astronomically Oriented

November 27, 2021

Archaeologists in Peru have found that the Caral civilization of ancient Peru, from 5,000 years ago, used astronomical calculations to build its most important structures. They studied 55 structures at 10 sites and found three orientations. “One toward the so-called major lunar standstill (when the moon’s range of declination reaches a maximum) and another toward sunrise in the summer solstice, which in the Southern Hemisphere occurs in December.”

“A third, weaker orientation was toward the rising of Sirius, the brightest star at night in the Southern Hemisphere.”
“It is not by chance that during every summer solstice the first rays of the sun enter through the stairs of the Caral Archaeological Site’s central pyramid and traverse its main hall through its niches. It’s very likely that a person had been on top of the buildings as the main point of observation to monitor both sunrises and sunsets, in the case of the solstices,”
The summer solstice is the start of the harvest period. The lunar standoff though only occurs every 18.6 years. 
The Caral inhabitants built an underground observatory for the person to work at night under a covered area.
The research is in Latin American Antiquity Journal
La Prensa has the report here;


Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Andean News on WordPress

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Peru (5000 BC-600 BC)

The Oldest Adobe Structures in Peru Uncovered

November 27, 2021

Archaeologists in Peru have uncovered monumental adobe structures At the Los Moteros site in the desert region of the northern coast or Peru. The structures are dated to 5,100-5,500 years ago. Carol-Supe culture structures. This was the starting point for the evolution of complex adobe construction in Peru stretching over thousands of years. The Los Moteros structures were found by radar. And only adobe was used with no additions for stability. The clay deposits were in a place probably created by El Niño flooding.

Radar was used to detect an underground structure at the Los Morteros archaeological site measuring 10 meters (33 feet) long, seven meters wide and two meters tall. After it was unearthed, Mauricio and her colleagues were astounded to see that the walls were made of adobe, which was unprecedented for that era.

The archaeologists observed that the adobe bricks were made exclusively of clay and that no other material had been mixed in to provide greater stability, a clear indication that the architectural technique was in its very early stages.

An analysis of the bricks’ composition also showed that the adobes were cut from natural clay deposits located near the mouth of the Chao River and likely created by El Niño flooding.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
La Prensa has the report here


472 New Sites Uncovered by LIDAR on the Mexican Gulf Coast.

November 1, 2021

LIDAR has uncovered information about the Olmec site of Buenavista dated at 3,000 years ago. It shows that sunrise aligns with the entrance to the site. This new research has revealed 478 ceremonial centers across Mexico’s Gulf Coast in the OImec heartland stretching 400 miles to the Maya lowlands. The finding shows that there was a 2,000 year old blueprint for ceremonial construction in all of these sites. Most of these new LIDAR discoveries stretch from 1050 BCE-400 BCE.

The LIDAR found an unknown area of the Olmec site of San Lorenzo dating to 1050 BCE to 400 BCE. This consisted of 20 rectangular earthen mounds around a central plaza. This blueprint was adopted at the site of Aguada Fénix 400 kilometers away dated at 1,000 BCE. Later sites followed this 20 mound layout surrounding a central plaza.

The research is published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

Science News has the report here:

Phys.org adds that the entrance ways and layouts seem to be geared to the Sun’s zenith. This occurs on May 10 in the region where the sites were found. This day marks the beginning of the rainy season and the planting of maize.


A lot more research will now begin based on these findings.

Mike Ruggeri’s Olmecs

Mike Ruggeri’s Olmecs

Combined Wari/Moche Mass Tomb found in Peru

October 29, 2021

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of 29 people, including three children, in northern Peru.The skeletons date to 1,000 CE in the site Huaca Santa Rosa de Pucala. Three children and a teen were buried in front of the temple, indicating they were human sacrifices from the War culture. This discovery is far from the Wari sphere of influence. The Wari culture dates are 600-1200 CE in the Peruvian Andes. The tomb was constructed between 800-900 CE.

25 of the dead are from the Moche culture and four from the Wari culture. The Moche era was 100-700 CE on the northern Peruvian coast. The Moche burials were in clay tombs. Pottery and llamas, alpacas, guinea pigs were also in the tombs

Archaeology News Network has the report here:

Mike Ruggeri’s Moche/Wari Era Cultures

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New Research on a Sican Gold Mask with Red Paint

October 30, 2021

In the early 1990’s, the Sican Archaeological project unearthed a tomb containing a 1,000 year old gold mask covered in red paint. It was affixed to a severed head. And the skeletal remains of this man was also sprinkled with the same red paint. Four skeletons and more gold artifacts were also in the tomb. The man in question was a bent at the waist and placed upside down. Two of the other four skeletons were women arranged in birthing and mid-wife positions. Tow others were children in a crouching position. Researchers said the red paint on the male was cinnabar.

Oxford researchers recently performed a chemical analysis of the red paint using mass spectrometry. The paint had jot degraded after 1,000 years. The scientific analysis found organic material was mixed in to the red paint. The proteins unveiled found that it came from human blood and the egg whites of a Muscovy duck common to the region. The skulls face was pointing upward possibly in expecting re-birth while the two women were waiting for a re-birth. The red blood was added to the cinnabar implying an animating feature. The Sican practiced human sacrifice in very grisly ways. So finding blood in the paint would not be surprising. It is possible the women and children in the tomb were sacrificed to act as companions in the next world.

The research is published in the ACS Journal of Proteome Research
Izumi Shimada, the head of the Sicán Archaeological Project, was instrumental in this project.

LiveScience has the report here;

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Andean News on WordPress

Mike Ruggeri’s Sican/Chimu Era Peru

Ancient Southwest Turkey Research

October 12, 2021

Researchers studying the raising of turkeys in the Ancient Southwest found that turkeys were often penned in rooms like the room near Room 28 at Pueblo Bonito. Turkeys were also allowed free range tied to tethers for over 1,600 years in the Southwest and northwest Mexico. Turkeys were used for the creation of blankets, paints, tools, musical instruments, food, and art. They were fed maize and ate fresh range diets.

“The DNA of the Ancestral Pueblo domesticated turkey survives in some wild Merriam’s turkey populations within the Southwest. So, when you are hunting for turkeys in New Mexico, or simply experience them in the environment, there is likely an aspect of that turkey that is related to the birds, peoples, and experiences described in this research,” he noted, adding, “There is a direct connection between what we perceive as ‘wild’ turkeys within the environment today and their ancestors of the past who interacted with and were managed by Pueblo peoples. It makes this research important because it was the specific conditions in which Ancestral Pueblo peoples managed these birds that allowed for this current relationship.

Turkey Conrad, management of the ancient Pueblo Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo spp.), Journal of archaeological methods and theories (2021). DOI: 10.1007 / s10816-021-09531-9

Phys.org has the report here;

Very Sophisticated Engineering 3.400 Years Ago At Poverty Point, Louisiana

October 12, 2021

Researchers at Washington University, St. Louis have found that the inhabitants of Poverty Point in Louisiana 3,400 years ago were highly skilled engineers who could build massive earthen structures in months that lasted far into the future. Their earthworks have have held together for 3,000 years with no failure or erosion. They built 72 foot tall earthen mounds without modern tools, horses or wheels.

Using modern research methods: radiocarbon dating, microscopic analysis of soils and magnetic measurements of soils, the research provides conclusive evidence that the earthworks were built rapidly. Essentially, there is no evidence of boundaries or signs of weathering between the various levels, which would have occurred if there was even a brief pause in construction. This required a large labor force, organized and good leadership. These were hunter-gatherers coming together on a huge common goal. They mixed clay, silt and sand to avoid erosion due to being in a flood plain.

Phys.org has the report here;

New Research on Ancient Southeast US Cave Art

October 12, 2021

In 1980, ancient cave art in the Southeast was found for the first time. The initial discovery was made in a cave near Knoxville, Tennessee. Since then, 92 dark-zone cave art sites have been discovered across the Mid-West and Eastern USA. The first cave art was named Mud Glyph Cave, and the art stretches back to 10,000-1000 BCE. The earliest are simple mostly abstract motifs, although some representational pictures have also been found there.

During the Woodland Period (1000 BCE-1000 CE) mythical creatures like bird-humans appear.

During the Mississippian Period (1000 CE-1500 CE) was the most prolific period with religious symbolism including spirits and mythical animals, and stories were being told.

Archaeologists are working with the present day Native Americans to discern the meanings of the art.

Archaeologists have divided south-eastern dark-zone cave art into three categories: mud glyphs, which are drawings traced into pliable mud surfaces preserved in caves; petroglyphs, which are drawings carved into the limestone of the cave walls; and pictographs, which are paintings on the cave walls, usually made with charcoal-based pigments. In some caves one can find two or even three of these categories.

Cherokee archaeologists, historians, and language experts have joined forces with archaeologists to translate these cave writings.

The dark-zone cave art is associated with death, transformation and renewal. They feature otherworldly characters, supernatural serpents and dogs that accompanied dead humans on the path of souls. The images are largely painted in black, a color associated with death.

The 2 sources below cover this research:



Tobacco Use in Ancient Utah at 12,300 Years Ago

October 12, 2021

Researchers have found the oldest human use of tobacco at a US Air Force base in Utah. Four charred tobacco seeds show that inhabitants of this site were chewing tobacco 12,300 years ago, 9.000 years earlier than previously thought. The seeds were found in an open air camp with a hearth, animal bones and stone tools. The camp is called Wishbone site because hundreds of bones of water fowl were found there, the main food source for these inhabitants.

The previous believed oldest tobacco find was in Alabama, where tobacco residue was found in a 3,300 year old smoking pipe. Tobacco would not have grown in the humid area where the seeds were found, so the seeds had to have been transported from elsewhere.

The seeds found at Wishbone belong to Nicotiana attenuata, the species of wild tobacco with the highest content of nicotine, thus the tobacco was selected out.

The people of Wishbone site belonged to the so-called Haskett culture. This was a stone tool complex that developed around 13,000 years ago
The tobacco at Wishbone may have had ceremonial value, or enjoyed for the energy and focus that a stimulant such as nicotine could provide to exhausted hunter-gatherers.
It’s also addictive, so in the end it would probably become part of your everyday life.

The research is published in the journal Nature Human Behavior,

Haaretz has the report here:


October 9, 2021

Ancient human footprints at the White Sands site in New Mexico have been uncovered. They were pressed into a local plant, spiral ditch grass. The seeds of the plant were radio carbon dated at 21,000-23,000 years ago. Seven footprint sites have been found at the site. They may represent children and adolescents because their feet were smaller. Since these foot prints were made by people who lived during the last glacial maximum, they had to have arrived by sea by some route around the glaciers.

Scientific American has the report here;

The footprints were found in the dry land bed of Lake Otero. The footprints were found by the team of archaeologists studying the site on a day when wind exposed the prints;

Sci-news has that report here:

The team found six layers and 11 seedbeds that stretched for 2000 years. The oldest footprint being 22,800 years ago and the youngest at 21,139 years ago.

The erosion that has revealed the footprints will disappear in a matter of months or years. Countless footprints are disappearing before the scientists even lay eyes on them.

But there is one strong doubt that remains; The seeds could have absorbed older carbon from the lake water, making them seem older than they really are. That particular problem will have to be settled before this find can be labeled as genuine Pre-Clovis.

(My note; That problem and further testing often takes years to prove by other teams investigating the evidence. It took over 20 years for the Monte Verde site in Chile to be proven Pre-Clovis and many years before the Paisley Cave, Oregon find to be certified Pre-Clovis).

The NY Times has that report here:

Fascinating Gold and Emerald Find in Columbia

September 29, 2021

Archaeologists in Colombia have found eight ceramic jars, with metallic figurines and emeralds inside a temple and its adjacent graves.

The Muisca (also called the Chibcha) crafted the jars called “ofrendatarios” 600 years ago. Their work may have inspired the legend of El Dorado — a legendary city made of gold.

Archaeologists uncovered the temple and graves in the remains of an ancient Muisca town located near Bogotá, A team led by archaeologist Francisco Correa, an archaeologist who conducts excavations prior to construction work, found the ofrendatarios prior to road construction in the area.

Some of the figurines look like snakes and other animals, while others look more like people with headdresses, staffs and weapons. The temple where the ofrendatarios were found may be related to ancestor worship.

Ofrendatarios like these have been found at other ancient Muisca sites.

They also be related to deities worshipped by the Muisca.

The Muisca were experts in metal crafting. There were no gold mines nearby, so the ancient Muisca traded for the metal with other groups.

Live Science has the report here with fascinating photos:

New Discoveries at the Xochitecatl site in Tlaxcala

September 29, 2021

INAH has discovered ceremonial offerings, and a staircase to the spiral pyramidal monument at the site of Xochitécatl, in Tlaxcala, dated at 800 BCE built on the summit of an extinct volcano. In 150 CE, the Popocatepetl Volcano erupted and the site was abandoned, then re-settled in 650 CE inside the Cacaxtla site area.

The new discovery was made at the site of a new museum being built at the site. Researchers discovered the original staircase, and several figurines carrying a maxtlatl (loincloth) painted in red, with elaborate headdresses, batons and a clay scroll in hand.

The team also unearthed two vessels for which micro-excavations are being conducted on the vessels to determine the contents and whether they could belong to the individuals represented in the figurines.

The entire offering is Late-Classic, except for a figurine from the Pre-Classic Period (2,500 BC-200 AD), and it may be talking about the reiteration of a lineage, possibly of priests or some type of hierarch of the settlement.”

The researchers intend to continue excavations of the steps at the spiral pyramidal monument, in the hope that the results will enable them to reintegrate the original elements into the monument.

Heritage Daily has the report here:

New LIDAR Discoveries at Teotihuacan

September 29, 2021

New LIDAR Discoveries at Teotihuacan

Nawa Sugiyama, from the University of California, Riverside, has found hidden traces of the early phases of Teotihuacan going back to its earliest phases of construction at 1,500 years ago. LIDAR has revealed rerouted rivers and built canals to align with astronomical points. 65% of urban areas in the region here aligned at 15 degrees east of astronomical north. Teotihuacan was constructed in this alignment.

298 features and 5,795 human-made terraces were unearthed By LIDAR and more than 200 features that once existed have since been destroyed by mining activities. But LIDAR has uncovered these features.

The research has been published in PLOS One.

Express.UK has the report here:

An Update on the Tunnel Underneath the Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent at Teotihuacan

September 29, 2021

An Update on the Tunnel Underneath the Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent at Teotihuacan

100,000 artifacts have been uncovered from a tunnel beneath the Temple of the Plumed Serpent at Teotihuacan. Archaeologist Sergio Gomez has found statues, jewelry, shells, ceramics, wooden and metallic objects

Over 100,000 artifacts from the tunnel have been cataloged so far, ranging from finely-carved statues, jewelry, shells, and ceramics as well as thousands of wooden and metallic objects that mostly survived the passage of time intact. Gomez and his large team continues to work in the 330 feet tunnel, which ends in three chambers which end at the mid-point of the pyramid above.

Recently, they found a tennis ball sized amber sphere with a residue that may be tobacco. It could have been a necklace for a priest. Priests took hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms before they entered the tunnel. The walls and floors were coated with iron pyrite. The tunnel could have been built to re-create the underworld to initiate new rulers. The tunnel was used from 50 CE-250 CE.

Gomez found 17 layers of shells laid down by priests. Bits of human hair and skin have been uncovered. The tunnel is filled with gifts to the lords of the underworld and to the Storm God. Several dozen black jars sculpted to resemble the Storm God have recently been found. Thousands of pieces of iron pyrite imported from as far away as Honduras, imperial jade

Among the offerings are hundreds of objects made of so-called imperial jade, one of the world’s most expensive gems, including ear spools, necklaces and pendants – one in the form of a crocodile 8,000 wooden objects – plates, bowls and more – were unearthed, as well as the skulls and claws of some three dozen animal species, especially predators like jaguars and pumas.

Gomez’s team is developing three-dimensional digital recreations of the artifacts as they originally would have appeared, so they can eventually be accessed online.

In late July, they found a circular pit, where priests had tossed four bunches of flowers. On top, they placed a heap of wood, handfuls of corn, chile, and nopal seeds, plus a miniature stone carved pyramid.

Finally, they set it all on fire.

Thanks to the charred wood, Gomez will soon be able to pinpoint the year the smoky ritual took place.

The flowers were unprecedented, the first time intact plant remains have been found at Teotihuacan.

Reuters has the story here:

Maya Site Building After Volcanic Eruptions

September 29, 2021

Archaeologist Akira Ichikawa, at the University of Colorado Boulder, has found that the Maya returned to sites that were destroyed after a catastrophic volcanic eruption much sooner than thought. He studied the site of San Andrés in El Salvador.

In AD 539, the Ilopango volcano erupted, the largest in Central America over the past 10,000 years, and the largest on Earth over the past 7,000 years. it covered the area around the volcano in waist-high ash for 35 kilometers. It also blew itself apart, leaving behind a deep gash that is now a crater lake.

It greatly impacted the Maya civilization, sending it into a period of decline due to the loss of nearby settlements and cooler temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere. Historians have debated how soon the Maya returned to the area, most suggesting it took hundreds of years. Ichikawa has shown evidence of the Maya returning to a site 40 miles west of the volcano between 30 and 80 years after the eruption. They built a large pyramid using ash and dirt.

Ichikawa analyzed samples from the ground and from the Campana structure, a pyramid resting atop a large platform. He found that work on the structure appears to have begun approximately 30 years after the eruption, though it could have been as long as 80 years.

The data suggests that the Maya returned to the area quickly. They built the pyramid as a way to appease the gods who had shown their anger by setting off the eruption.

The research is published in Cambridge Core

Phys.org has the report here;

The Evolution of Maya Rulership

September 29, 2021

Dartmouth researchers studied the Maya site of Yaxunam and E groups in the Maya lowlands that are astronomically aligned with equinoxes and solstices.

Maya rulers worried the past world would interfere with their authority so they tried to erase the past. The rulers saw themselves as the embodiment of the Sun God and needed to put their persona over their cities. E group sites were built on an east-west axis with a pyramid at the west and a long raised platform at the east. At 400 BCE, E group complexes were built on existing temples, or on top of them. Sometimes, there were 5 or 6 pyramids built over the top of preceding ones. At Yaxunam, precious items like polished magnetite or a ceramic vessel with greenware beads were placed in some of the levels to emphasize continuity.

Other E group structures were ritually destroyed and burned to destroy the energy or soul of a building, and the ashes spread over an area for new uses. Rulers introduced new architecture or massive civic architecture like massive roadways to new districts, creating a more hierarchical politics

The research is published in the Journal Ancient Mesoamerica

Heritage Daily has the report here:

August 27, 2021

Atacama Desert in Chile Growing Violence at 1000 BCE

At 1000 BCE, ancient Andeans tried farming in the driest desert in the world, the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. At this point, violence exploded with folks using maces, knives, hunting weapons. They were fighting over water and fertile land.

Graves excavated between 3,000-1,400 years old show snapped ribs, broken collarbones, facial mutilation and puncture wounds in the lungs, groin and spine. At least half of the injuries look like they were fatal blows.

There are skinny patches of fertile land in the Atacama Desert where inhabitants irrigated, planted corn, chiles and other crops.

Researchers studied the remains of the dead and found half of the injuries in the dead were fatal. This level of violence is much higher then found in other nearby regions. Males and females were battered, but child abuse is rare. Mace injuries, stabbings were common. The lab at the University of North Carolina studied dental remains from 31 individuals with injuries and 38 individuals with no injuries. They found no foreigners. Some ate a largely seafood diet, others ate food from the valley. So there was conflict between fisherman and farmers.

They found spear throwers, knives and other weapons in the graves. Rock art depicts warriors with headdresses and bows and darts. In one village, massive walls were built with stocked sling stones. El Nino cycles around 1000 BCE caused less reliable seafood catch, and drought in the valleys. So wars began over land, water, and food.

The research will be published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Smithsonian has the report here:

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Andean News on Tumblr

August 27, 2021

Oldest Archaeological Site in Michigan Uncovered

Researchers in Michigan have found a 13,000 year old Clovis site, which is the oldest archaeological site in Michigan. The site was occupied by 6-7 people. They were hunter-scavengers living on the edge of the retreating mile high glacier at the end of the last Ice Age. Thomas Talbot found the first Clovis point there in 2008, in a field now known as the Belsen Site. The point was of Attica Chert that came from 120 miles away. Talbot found more pieces as the years went by, until he found 20 Clovis tools and a lot of debitage at the site.

A more extensive search of the site was carried out by University of Michigan archaeologists and found an undisturbed layer, and the camp. Protein residue analysis will now take place at a lab in Colorado to identify the plants and animals the points were used on.

The research has been published in the journal PaleoAmerican: • Study: The Belson Site: A Paleoindian Campsite on the Outwash Plains of the Central Great Lakes

The report is here from the University of Michigan;

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Americas News on Tumblr

August 19, 2021

Groundbreaking DNA Research Finds Australasian/Melanesian Ancestry in South America.

DNA studies in 2015 revealed Australasian/Melanesian ancestry in two Indigenous Amazonian groups, the Karitiana and Suruí, Researchers found Australasian ancestry in Indigenous groups living across South America, including those descended from Peru’s Mochica civilization.

They left Siberia 20,000 years ago to Beringia, and left Beringia 15,000 years ago. They are found at the Pre-Clovis site of Monte Verde in Southern Chile 14,800 years ago.

The key to this discovery was locating the genetic Y signal among the groups in the Amazon, on the Brazilian plateau, and in the Peruvian Chotuna people who descended from the Mochica (100-800 CE).

The migrants took a coastal route and split off in the central plateau and the Amazon 15,000-8,000 years ago.

The researchers need to find the Y signal in coastal areas to solidify their claims. And they have to find out why the Y signal has not been found in North or Central America. They may have died out by way of larger groups taking over from the north or the genocide of the Spanish conquest.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

(My note: There have been many other earlier studies that pointed in this direction. This study brings us closer to the story)

Sciencemag has the report here:

Mike Ruggeri’s Pre-Clovis and Clovis News on Tumblr

August 18, 2021

9,000 Year Old Obsidian Artifacts Found Under Lake Huron

An underwater archaeological team from the University of Texas, the University of Michigan, Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center, the Northwest Research Obsidian Studies Laboratory and the University of Georgia have found 9,000 year old obsidian tools under Lake Huron that originated 2,500 miles away from the well-known Wagontire site in Central Oregon. These are the farthest east these western obsidian artifacts has ever been found.

This research was part of a study on caribou hunters at the end of the last Ice Age.

More information: John M. O’Shea et al, Central Oregon obsidian from a submerged early Holocene archaeological site beneath Lake Huron, PLOS ONE(2021).  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0250840

Phys.org has the report here:

August 14, 2021

Important Discovery at Teotihuacan

Four bouquets of ancient flowers have been found 59 feet below the Temple of Quetzalcoatl at Teotihucan. These are the first ancient botanical artifacts found at Teotihuacan. They are amazingly preserved and still tied together by cotton strings.

Sergio Gomez and his team have also found ceramics in the tunnel below the Temple from various phases of Teotihuacan history during this excavation. They have not removed the bouquets to preserve the humidity and conditions in the tunnel that preserved these flowers. They also found many kilos of charcoal that were the remains of ritual ceremonies which involved the burning of seeds and fruits.

They have found a censor with a slope and board, but have not provided a photo.

Gomez and his team have found 100,000 objects including ceramics, obsidian, shells, snails, rubber, hair, big cats and birds remains. They have also found a half a kilo of cocoa beans in good condition at the end of the tunnel, imported from Maya realms.

La Jornada has the report here (in Spanish) with a video.

Daily Mail has some photos here:

August 12, 2021

Maya Built Very Modern Water Filtration Systems at Tikal in Guatemala

The Maya built reservoir 2,185 years ago at the site of Tikal, early in its history. It relied on crystalline quartz and zeolite, a compound of silicon and aluminum to create a molecular sieve which removed harmful microbes, heavy metals and other pollutants, and these remained in use until Tikal was abandoned around 1100. Today, the same minerals are used in modern water filtration systems, and not discovered for use in modern times till the 20th century.

Other reservoirs in the area were polluted with mercury from pigments the Maya used on walls and burials. The quartz and zeolite came from 18 miles away. Teams will now look for similar techniques at other sites.

Smithsonian has the report here with photos:


August 12, 2021

Extensive Ruins Found in the Northern Yucatan With LIDAR

Archaeologists using billions of LIDAR shots at the ground in the Puuc region of the Yucatan have found extensive Maya structures including artificial reservoirs, 1,200 ovens, farming terraces, 8,000 housing platforms, each house having 2-3 rooms. Four large acropolises dating from 700 BCE-450 BCE, civic centers built from 600-750 CE in very distinct city layouts not seen elsewhere. Elite housing was dispersed throughout, and not concentrated. No defensive structures exist. This looks like a very large peaceful community.

They built cisterns to collect rainwater in their limestone terrain, and aqueducts with long channels. They had a widespread stone working industry with quarries and 1,232 circular ovens to heat sandstone to produce lime for mortar and to soften maize for help with nutrients.

The study was published online Wednesday (April 28) in the journal PLOS One.

Live Science has the report here with photos:

August 12, 2021

The Rise and Fall of a Maya “Bannerman”

June 24, 726 CE, Ajpach ‘Waal met with the great 18 Rabbit at Copan in Honduras. Ajpach ‘Wall was from El Palmar 200 miles away over rugged terrain, a month on foot away. The meeting was memorialized on a monument at Copan and on a monument at El Palmar. Ajpach ‘Waal’s title was “Bannerman.” He may be buried near the monument. The monument was constructed on September 14 CE. There is a staircase with 164 limestone block glyphs, unusual for a site so small. The ruler of Calakmul is depicted, belonging to the Snake dynasty. Ajpak ‘Waal went to Copan on behalf of the king of Calakmul, perhaps to broker an alliance against Tikal.

Ajpjk ‘Waal was a royal diplomat or Lakam. The possible burial site of Ajpach was very modest. The bones found indicate the life of a man who had malnutrition and possibly scurvy. He had shin injuries possibly related to playing the ball game, and ballplayers are depicted in the glyphs. He had severe arthritis like a Lakam you have hiking long distances over rugged terrain. He had jade and pyrite teeth inlays.

On May 3, A.D. 738, 18 Rabbit was captured and beheaded by rebels from Quiriguá, supported by Ajpach’ Waal’s patron, the king of Calakmul. Calakmul itself then fell to Tikal.
After that Ajpach’s standing fell, and he could not pay for a missing tooth with an inlay. His burial place was celebrated with a fire ceremony and maintained by his family.

Archaeology.org has the story with photos: