Thursday, March 13, 2014

Comparing the Mexicans with their ancestors II, 1903

This is another comparison between archaeological pieces from ancient Mexican civilizations and contemporary individuals (1903). Two Tarascan Indians of which no reference is given, but their origin: Pazquaro, Michoacán.

The comparison was made by archaeologist Leopoldo Batres in his book:  Visita a los Monumentos Arqueológicos de La Quemada Zacatecas.

The author writes:
they are natives “from Patzcuaro´s lake-shore towns. To classify these men as Tarascan Indians, I used my methodology for anthropological classification of the American tribes, comparing the analyzed tribes´ old sculptures with the contemporary Indian people of the same tribe. And as I believe that “La Quemada” ruins builders were Tarascan Indians, I have seen fit to show in this book, their anthropological type, in order to let you know how it was”.
The author supposed the builders of “La Quemada” site to be Tarascan Indians.  Until today its origin hasn’t been clarified. And even though, does not seem very scientific to compare the archaeological objects found in the site with random Tarascan Indian men, moreover when the first sculpture seems to depict a woman, I believe Batres´ efforts to find the origin behind these ruins from the Mexican State of Zacatecas, are very valuable.

Lea esto en español aquí.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Comparing the Mexicans with their ancestors.

When I was a little Child and for some reason I cried or I was upset, my father used to say me:
-          “You have the face of an idol”
-          The face of an idol? I used to ask.
-          Yes, the face of an Aztec idol” he used to answer.

It is needless to say that annoyed me more. Anyway, now I think my father was right. My face, for sure, shows some features of the ancient Indian people of Mexico even if I do not try to show it, even if I am not upset. As a large percentage of Mexican population, I am a native Indian descendant from the so large land of Colonial Mexico. And as many Mexicans, I am a “mestizo”, namely I am an Spaniard descendant too by other ancestral branches.

I wonder about my father’s words because of I was checking over some books from the digital library of the UANL (University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico). There I found a very interesting collection of books about Mexican archaeology and anthropology. It titled: “Arqueología mexicana: civilización de algunos de las diferentes tribusque habitaron el territorio hoy mexicano, en la antigüedad” by Leopoldo Batres, 1888. This collection has many beautiful illustrations, some of them in full color. But the most interesting for me was something I have never saw before: one of the books from the collection with the title: “Arqueología Mexicana: Clasificación del tipo étnico de las tribus zapoteca del Estado de Oaxaca y Acolhua del Valle de México”, also from 1888, with a comparison between pictures of Indian people from that year, and Pre-Columbian archaeological pieces showing facial features.

Batres wanted to do a collection of human skulls and skeletons from contemporary people from every ethnic Mexican group in order to analyze and study the racial differences between them. He was looking for an explanation to the skull deformities that were practiced for the ancient ethnic groups. He wanted to find the possible changes in the human’s bone structure effected by nutrition, behavior and environment. And he states that comparing collections from Mexico and other countries human skeletons would be possible “trace the origin of ancient American settlers”.

The author shows 3 comparisons in his book:

a)      Muncio Monsalvo, 36 years old, Acolhua Indian from the Mexican Valley (Texcoco) and born in Huexotla. The author wrote down meticulously the anatomical measurements (height 166, skin color "yellowish", etc.)  even heartbeat and respiratory measurements.

b)      The author compares an Indian woman from the same origin. He notes about her: “The Acolhua Indian Woman showing in the picture didn't allowed that her body measurements were taken …” There were not write down her name. We can’t know anything more about this courageous voluntary woman.

c)       The third comparison: Jose Maria Romero, 34 years Zapoteca Indian, born in San Lorenzo Cimatlan, Oaxaca. About him is only write down some data from the author observation because: “he didn't help for his measurements were taken” .

The book  collection, as I said before, is very interesting and extensive. This is just a sample.