Restoring “xantiles” found in Puebla

They are clay sculptures from the Mesoamerican pantheon
Photo: Courtesy of INAH
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Three years ago, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) discovered clay sculptures, called xantiles, deposited as part of an offering that corresponds to an ossuary inside the building called the "Altar of the skulls," in the Archaeological Zone of Tehuacán, located in the state of Puebla.

The sculptures, which were not in an optimal state, were taken over by specialists and students of the INAH. "They were rather fragmented and some only required cleaning, since they had dirt on the surface," said restorer Monserrat Salinas Rodrigo.

For her part, archaeologist Noemí Castillo explained that in the central set of this archaeological site they found in 2014 "a substructure of the first constructive stage (1000-1200 AD) and a small 3,2 feet high (one meter) altar with steps and two skulls on the sides, so we called it Altar of the skulls."

Castillo explained that as they cleaned the surface of the altar, human bones purposely fragmented began to appear, making necessary the exploration of the interior of the structure, which corresponded to an ossuary of approximately 43 by 10 square feet (four square meters by one deep.)

The skeletal remains correspond to more than 40 individuals between adults and children. In the northeast corner were deposited 11 of the xantiles and one more attached to the west wall.

In addition, there are three half-full representations of Xipe Tótec, the deity related to spring and disease, as well as skulls, a head of Tláloc, god of rain, with blinders, mustache, and fangs. Everything corresponds to the Late Postclassic period of the Mesoamerican culture (1100-1521 AD).

The archaeological site of Tehuacán is distinguished by the groups of buildings and pyramidal basements distributed on the plateau slopes, where ritual ceremonies were performed and there were also housing units in which the rulers and priests lived.


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