17 | SEP | 2019
Over 4,000 pre-Hispanic vestiges found in Chapultepec
In 2016, Chapultepec park obtained the declaration of Archeological site – Photo: Patricia Juárez/EL GRÁFICO REDISEÑO

Over 4,000 pre-Hispanic vestiges found in Chapultepec

24/08/2019
17:48
Antonio Díaz
Mexico City
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The Chapultepec Park, Hill, and Castle Project is directed by archeologist María de Lourdes López Camacho

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There are not only museums and a vast zone of green areas in Chapultepec park; 4,000 pre-Hispanic pieces have been found, such as buttons, figurines en different positions, obsidian arrowheads, and pots.

But in the park, which has three sections, petroglyphs, burials, human remains of close approximately 15 bodies, and structures of temples and houses have also been found.

These pre-Hispanic vestiges confirm that at least three cultures: Mexica, Tepaneca, and Teotihuacan, comments in an interview the archeologist María de Lourdes López Camacho, coordinator of the Chapultepec Park, Hill, and Castle Project.

In 2016, Chapultepec park obtained the declaration of Archeological Site, which includes the First and Second section, as well as part of the Third. Currently, the Chapultepec Cultural Project is on the making, directed by artist Gabriel Orozco, and was announced on April 2nd by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“Nobody has come to me to analyze anything about the cultural project and the vestiges, but I believe they have reached other authorities. I think that when they have the executive project they will notice that they are inside and Archeological site. They will want to build things, but they will need the presence of an archeologist to monitor the excavations. I hope they reach out and I hope there is the sensibility [to take care of heritage],” says the researcher of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
 

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The hill and the volcano. Archeological research in Chapultepec park started in 1964. However, in 2009, María de Lourdes López Camacho started the Chapultepec Park, Hill, and Castle Project.

Ten years later, the researcher tells EL UNIVERSAL that in the three sections more than 4,000 pre-Hispanic vestiges have been found. She also tells the story of the land and talks about the difficulties because of the extension of it and other factors such as budget cuts.

Chapultepec hill, says the expert, is actually “the Chapultepec volcano” and is the most ancient formation in Mexico’s Basin, and was characterized by having, according to different studies, 13 springs that were exploited until times of Porfirio Diaz.

“Historical data indicates that in Chapultepec hill, there were two occupations from the pre-Classic, Classic, and post-Classic. Contrary to other areas in the city, Chapultepec hill had areas where human groups could settle. That is, the space is characterized by a continuous temporality because up to this day the Chapultepec area is still occupied by humans,” she comments.

Chapultepec hill has gone through different moments. In pre-Hispanic times, the “Moctezuma bathrooms” were built, a praying altar, and a housing unit. However, during the viceregal period, the first stage of the “castle” was made, between 1785 and 1787. Then, it was a rest house for viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez.
 

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It was also part of the military college and from the Porfiriato a part of it was used as a presidential residence, but since February 3rd, 1939, it became the house of the National History Museum.

“Since pre-Hispanic times, Chapultepec hill and its summit have been a symbol of power. Since the beginning, it has been a space desired place by conquerors and invaders. Besides, the use of water stood out, because there were close to 13 springs that allowed early settlements, for the small communities of groups of hunters, collectors, and villages of the Classic period,” says the archeologist.

In the hill, comments María de Lourdes López Camacho, materials from the early and late pre-Classic period have been found, as well as figurines where the characters are in positions such as lotus flower and “before the Castle there was a temple, part of its structure was found in the high part, in the archeological excavations of 1998, as part of the Restructuration Project of the Chapultepec Castle and Citadel,” besides, petroglyphs have been found in rocks of Chapultepec hill.

The water from the springs of Chapultepec was transported to the Templo Mayor through aqueducts; nevertheless, these structures are not preserved; there is only the aqueduct that goes through Chapultepec Avenue near subway station Sevilla, which was the last to be built.

Declaration. In 2009, María de Lourdes López started the Chapultepec Park, Hill, and Castle Archeological Project. It was not an easy endeavor, she says, because “no one thought there would be vestiges;” nonetheless, she proposed a surface tour in the three sections.
 

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“We took an aerial picture of most part of Chapultepec park. Then, we went through the areas with “anomalies,” that is, those areas where I ruled as not being natural but of human construction, especially, the abnormal points were symmetrical or square.”

After the first tours, vestiges were found in different areas. The archeologist decided to start a file so that Chapultepec park would obtain the declaration of Archeological site.

“In the First section, we have found Teotihuacan materials, near Los Pinos; however, that area was not the only one with pre-Hispanic occupation, for inside Los Pinos, in La Hormiga park, I found a Teotihuacan burial in 2018: it was a pot with ashes,” comments the researcher.

In the Second section, Lourdes López participated in 20018 in the project for remodeling Chapultepec’s Fair, from which they got two burials. “In one, we found half of a  skull, the other half was already part of a mechanical play’s foundation. There, we also found parts of arms and legs. Unfortunately, no complete burials were found, but there is proof that shows there was more, that there was a housing unit because in that time burials were done inside homes.”
 

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From 2016 to 2018, Chapultepec park and the National Water Commission started the project to “inject water to Mexico City’s aquifers.” The final part of the project consisted of the installation of automatic irrigation systems in the First and Second section, but it’s something that hasn’t been talked about, “perhaps because of the change of administration.”

In 2018, a Teotihuacan-style country house was found in the Second section, although “we don’t know if they are contemporary, prior, or posterior to Teotihuacan, there are still tests to be done.”

López Camacho says that in the three sections, they have found material of more than 4,000 pieces in areas as Chapultepec hill and even the Winston Churchill Park, also known as “El Mexicanito.”

“A lot of people didn’t believe there were vestiges. Things are out there, sometimes it is enough to go down one level of soil, and having the political willingness for everything to go with the flow. The Chapultepec Park, Hill, and Castle Project is not concluded yet; it is a megaproject that has not had a budget, the INAH pays my salary; the National Museum of History supports me; I have a laboratory, but thanks to the companies that are making the work [in Chapultepec] I have achieved that people work,” says the archeologist.

López Camacho acknowledges that continuing with the Chapultepec Park, Hill, and Castle Project is a challenge because “with few resources, one must do marvels to try to obtain these [archeological] pieces.”

The archeologist is in charge of the project; nevertheless, the rest of the staff are former students who are doing professional practices or community service, “I have asked for assistant researchers, but among cuts and other factors, it hasn’t happened. We even subsidize from our own pocket, although the most important is that Chapultepec’s map is starting to become clear.”

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