Archaeologists uncovered the ruins of a residential dwelling more than 800 years old, constructed during the Aztec Empire, in the Centro neighborhood of Mexico City, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement last week. The structure was discovered as part of a larger modernization project for electrical power substations.
Spanning more than 4,300 square feet, the abode is believed to date from the late Postclassic period (1200-1521 C.E.) and would have been situated on the border of two neighborhoods in the Aztec Empire’s capital city, Tenochtitlan. Along with the dwelling, archaeologists uncovered channels and a jetty where boats could load and unload, a feature of Aztec chinampa farming. The chinampa method relied on growing crops in small, rectangular areas of fertile land on shallow lake beds.
Under the floor, a pair of discovered funerary vessels—one red Texcoco and the other canal brown monochrome—contained the remains of infants, as well as a couple of burials with an offering of censers, whorls, and spinning tools.
Archaeologists also uncovered a 23½-inch-tall stone statue, depicting a man in a loincloth who appears to be in a throwing motion, from the same period. Due to lack of polish, they believe the statue is unfinished and was possibly hidden around 1521 C.E. during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.
Remains from colonial settlement in the 16th and 17th centuries include 20-inch-thick walls constructed from stones and mud to create four rooms and a patio. Investigations have shown evidence of a saddlery and ceramic workshop from that time.
In the 19th century, according to lead archaeologist Alicia Bracamontes Cruz, it’s thought that the site was used as a public bathhouse for the elite, as chronicled in the writings of 19th-century Mexican physician and historian José María Marroquí. There, the team uncovered remnants of bathroom floor tiles, large pipes, and a drainage system, along with reinforced concrete plates, thermal materials that were exposed to high temperatures, and European construction materials.
While the archaeological work is nearing completion, the team will oversee continuing construction of the new substation.