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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Apr 8;105(14):5315-20. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0710696105. Epub 2008 Apr 7.

Human cremation in Mexico 3,000 years ago.

Author information

1
Department of Anthropology, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY 14618, USA. bduncan@sjfc.edu

Abstract

Mixtec nobles are depicted in codices and other proto-historic documentation taking part in funerary rites involving cremation. The time depth for this practice was unknown, but excavations at the early village site of Tayata, in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico, recovered undisturbed cremation burials in contexts dating from the eleventh century B.C. These are the earliest examples of a burial practice that in later times was reserved for Mixtec kings and Aztec emperors. This article describes the burial contexts and human remains, linking Formative period archaeology with ethnohistorical descriptions of Mixtec mortuary practices. The use of cremation to mark elevated social status among the Mixtec was established by 3,000 years ago, when hereditary differences in rank were first emerging across Mesoamerica.

PMID:
18391213
PMCID:
PMC2291131
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0710696105
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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