The remains of a human settlement from the pre-Columbian Huastec civilization were identified by archaeologists with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Tamaulipas, Mexico, according to an announcement made last week. Researchers called it one of the most important finds in the region in recent decades because of how much material has been recovered.
The foundations of four large earth mounds were found at the archaeological site El Naranjo, which was active more than a millennium ago. The area was used for burial grounds as well as a place for daily activities.
The team has excavated two of the four mounds so far. Measuring 66 feet in diameter, Mound 4 contained multiple adult burials who were adorned with earrings made of green quartz and shells, some carved in the shape of flowers. Within Mound 1, which measures 98 feet in diameter, were several other burials and one adult grave contained within a limestone structure.
Of particular interest to researchers is the quality of the mounds, which were made of earth, limestone, and basalt. Access to these materials would have only been possible due to specialized transportation and labor. The foundations are similar to earthen houses, known as Bajareque houses, that people in Ocampo and the surrounding areas are currently building.
The ancient Huastec civilization stretched across what is now six Mexican states. They constructed underground mounds that have been identified at a number of archaeological sites, including Platanito and Vista Hermosa.
El Naranjo was excavated as part of the ongoing construction of a superhighway that will go through the Mexican municipalities of Mante and Tula in Tamaulipas. So far, the construction has yielded a number of important finds. Further study on the site is expected to continue.