Category Archives: NORTH AMERICA

Possible 16th-Century Spanish Anchors Found Near Mexico

Possible 16th-Century Spanish Anchors Found Near Mexico

The exact location where the anchors were found was when the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes was sinking his ships in order to prevent a return to Cuba by opposing the leaders of his army.

Anchor studies have shown that their morphology places the anchors to the 16th century. Their orientation indicates that they follow patterns that could be associated with the location of the fleet of conquistador Hernan Cortes.

Villa Rica is usually rich in tourists and fishermen in the salty seawater.

One of the anchors recovered off the Velacruz coast

The coast of Veracruz, however, was around 500 years ago one of history’s main cultural gatherings, which is now being investigated, with positive results, by underwater archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), who work together with foreign specialists to explore the seabed.

The researchers have found two iron anchors in their new exploratory project, the second season of the Villa Rica Subaquatic Archeology Project

Curiously, the experts have revealed that the unique characteristics of the anchors link them to the 16th century. The objects join the discover of another anchor that was found in 2018.

Laboratory studies have proven that the wood of its stock belongs to a tree of Spain’s Cantabrian coast.

The recently recovered anchors were discovered no more than 300 meters north of the location where experts in 2018 recovered the first anchor. The largest of the anchors is 3.68 meters long and 1.55 meters wide. The second anchor is 2.6 meters long and 1.43 meters wide.

Unlike the anchors recovered in 2018, the recently found objects did not converse their wooden stock.

Nonetheless, the protuberances over the rod are visible where the stock would adjust.

“In both, a pair of bumps running parallel to the arms can be seen in the cane at the height at which the stocks adjusted, a typical feature of the manufacture of anchors in the 16th century,” the researchers revealed in a statement.

“It is not clear if all three anchors belong to the same historical moment, but their alignment to the southwest coincides with the logic of Villa Rica as a port that protects ships from the north and northwest winds,” explained Roberto Junco, head of the Underwater Archeology Branch of INAH.

Despite this uncertainty, for experts, it is of great importance to know they are following an accurate route to locate shipwrecks that are linked to the arrival of Europeans to the American continent.

“The Conquest of Mexico was a seminal event in human history, and these shipwrecks, if we can find them, will be symbols of the cultural collision that led to what is now the West, geopolitical and socially speaking,” says underwater archaeologist Dr. Frederick Hanselmann.

It is important to note that the anchors are well-preserved thanks to the same sediment that had protected them for five centuries. This is why after experts completed measurements and documentations, the anchors were once again covered in the sediment to be protected in situ.

Researchers will now focus on another 15 anomalies that show potential as being anchors.

A Kiln That Fired Millions of Clay Pipes Was Unearthed Under a Montreal Bridge

A Kiln That Fired Millions of Clay Pipes Was Unearthed Under a Montreal Bridge

A bustling pipe-making district at the intersection of four Montreal neighborhoods catered to Canadians in need of a tobacco fix, during the 19th Century.

The leading Henderson pipe plant manufactured millions of pipes each year was one of the manufacturers operating in the area.

According to Max Harrold of CTV News, a key component of the factory operations was discovered by archaeologists: a “massive” kiln where Henderson clay pipes were fired before being sold to smokers.

A Kiln That Fired Millions of Clay Pipes Was Unearthed Under a Montreal Bridge
A massive pipe kiln from the Henderson factory, unearthed by archaeologists.

The team discovered the kiln beneath the Jacques Cartier Bridge, a now-iconic landmark that connects Montreal and the city of Longueuil while conducting survey work prior to the installation of a drainage system near piers on the Montreal side of the bridge.

Per a press release from Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI), archaeologists embarked on the dig with the specific goal of locating the Henderson kiln.

Historic maps confirmed that the team’s chosen dig spot was once the site of the Henderson factory and even identified the location of a kiln spanning between 16 and 19 feet in diameter.

Hundreds of pipes have previously been found in the area, many of them stamped with the “Henderson/Montreal” label-another sign that the kiln was hiding nearby.

“We knew we’d come across it this time around,” archaeologist Christian Roy tells Jessica Leigh Hester of Atlas Obscura.

The kiln had been largely demolished, but Roy says the excavation team found chambers “through which the air would flow into the oven,” along with “other openings where they could put charcoal in to heat up the kiln.”

Archaeologists suspect the structure dates to sometime between 1847 and 1892. According to JCCBI, which spearheaded the dig, the kiln may have been rebuilt while still in operation, as “this type of equipment required regular maintenance and repairs.”

Pipes found on land near the kiln

Tobacco smoking was a fashionable habit in centuries past. In Scandanavia, it was much more popular to consume tobacco in the form of snus. Even today, this is still very popular and is consumed via slim or large portions placed under the lip. However, in other areas of the world, smoking tobacco was most common. To capitalize on the trend, companies in Europe and North America produced an array of pipes made from such materials as wood, porcelain, clay, and plaster.

Irish immigrants who flocked to Canada to escape the Great Famine of the 1840s may have sparked Montreal’s pipe-making craze. Prior to their arrival, the city “had little if any prior history of pipe making,” explains the late Iain Walker, a leading clay pipe researcher. “Irish immigrants were forced to make their own pipes.”

The Henderson factory was founded in 1847 by a Scotsman named William Henderson Sr. His company manufactured clay pipes engraved with delicate fruits, flowers, and other designs.

Clay tobacco pipes were fragile but cheap and are among “the most commonly-found [artifacts] on colonial and post-colonial settlements in Canada,” Walker explained in a 1970 paper.

Cigarettes, Walker added, “did not become the most popular means of taking tobacco in Great Britain and the United States until the end of the First World War.”

Henderson’s factory was a thriving business. It processed between 225 and 300 tons of clay each year, according to JCCBI, and by 1871, the company was producing some seven million pipes annually. Most of the people who worked in the factory were Scottish and Irish immigrants.

Henderson’s grandsons, known as the Dixon brothers, took over the factory in 1876. By the 1980s, reports Hester, the factory’s operations were winding down, and in the 1920s, the land was razed to make way for the new bridge.

The newly unearthed kiln will soon be reburied; exposing it to the harsh Canadian winter would result in its destruction, and the structure is too fragile to relocate. Roy tells Hester that an interpretive plaque may be added to the site in a nod to Montreal’s history as a prominent center of Canada’s pipe-making industry.

Stone tables found in Chichen Itza reveal unknown information on the ancient Maya

Stone tables found in Chichen Itza reveal unknown information on the ancient Maya

According to a report in The Smithsonianmag, a team of archaeologists led by José Francisco Osorio León and Francisco Pérez Ruiz of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History has found 1,000-year-old pieces of a limestone table inscribed with hieroglyphs and human figures in the so-called Temple of the Snails at Chichen Itza.

Together, the stones measure about five feet long by four and one-half feet wide. The images include possible prisoners of war tied with ropes. Osorio León said the table was carved in Chichen Itza and moved to the Temple of the Snails from another location

The stones are buried at the Snails Temple in the Chichen Viejo region, which is built-in late-terminal classics (900-1000 AD), Osorio Leon commented.

He commented on this pre-Columbian piece “was reused as a table, that is, it does not correspond to the Temple of Snails, and although it was carved in Chichen Itza, the exact place where it was placed and subsequently taken to is unknown. It is thought that the stone table served as an altar”.

López Calzada carried out the supervision of the general conservation and restoration works of the archaeological zone, in its 2019 season, which has the objective of ensuring the state of conservation of the archaeological monuments, of this important World Cultural Heritage site.

The works are carried out in the area known as Chichen Viejo, which includes monumental buildings from the Terminal Classic and Early Postclassic periods.

The official explained that “they correspond to research and rescue of sectors of Chichén Itzá that included secondary cores adjacent to the central area, including the architectural group commonly known as ‘Chichén Viejo’.

The area where INAH – Yucatán specialists currently work is located 800 meters south of the ceremonial complex of Las Monjas in Chichén Itzá, and it is connected to the main archaeological area through Sacbé 25 and Sacbé 26.

He explained that it covers an area of 150 meters north-south by 125 meters east-west, and on a walled platform there are eight main structures, three platforms, and other housing complexes. The building has six accesses, the main one in the form of a large arch with a vault and rounded walls.

The project is directed by archaeologists José Francisco Osorio León and Francisco Pérez Ruiz, researchers attached to the INAH Yucatan Center.

In addition, archaeologists Abimael Josué Cu Pérez, Alfonso Emmanuel Argueta Estrada, Cesar Antonio Torres Ochoa, Nelda Issa Marengo Camacho, among others, are also participating in this project.

More than 50 workers from San Felipe Nuevo, Pisté, and Xcalacop communities in Tinúm are contributing to return the splendor to Chichen Itza with an investment of three million pesos.

The buildings that are intervened are the “Structure of the Stucco”, the “Temple of the Sacrifices”, the “Palace of the Columns”, and “The House of the Snails”, among others that will receive cleaning and general maintenance.

López Calzada added that between January and February of next year, the 2020 Season of the Chichen Itza Archaeological Project will begin, in which more than 60 workers will be employed.

Boy Found Million-Year-Old Fossil by Tripping Over It

Boy Found Million-Year-Old Fossil by Tripping Over It

For example, while walking through the New Mexican desert, something turns out to be a fossil of Stegomastodon from 1.2 million years ago, you could see some benefits.

Dr. Peter Houde with the Sparks brothers during the Stegomastodon excavation.

Jude Sparks, 9, was doing this last October when he and his parents visited the Orange Mountains.

The brother of Jude, a hunter, was not initially convinced that the finding was awesome.

“Hunter said it was just a big fat rotten cow,” Jude told KVIA TV. “I didn’t know what it was. I just knew it wasn’t usual.”

To him, the discovery looked like “fossilized wood.”

His parents agreed and contacted Peter Houde, a professor at New Mexico State University, who returned with the family to the site the next day. Sure enough, the boy had stumbled over a fossilized tusk.

It’s a big discovery — both literally and metaphorically. The ancient mammals were cousins to the wooly mammoth and modern-day elephant, so the remains are large.

They’re also rare since prehistoric bones typically disintegrate quickly after being exposed to the elements. Houde suspects the Sparks family came across the tusk just after erosion had brought it to the surface.

“This is really very unusual to find,” he told The New York Times.

With Houde’s help, the family reburied the remains and set about fundraising for a formal dig.

It took them months to organize a team and secure a permit — but in May they finally uncovered an entire skull made of fragile “egg-shell thin” pieces.

Jude Sparks

“We’re really, really grateful that they contacted us, because if they had not done that if they had tried to do it themselves, it could have just destroyed the specimen,” Houde, who hopes to display the remains at the university, said. “It really has to be done with great care and know-how.”

Oddly, this isn’t the first accidental Stegomastadon find. In 2014, a hiking bachelor party found a 3-million-year-old skull belonging to the dino in New Mexico’s Butte Lake State Park.

Humans may have hunted the Stegomastodon toward the end of its existence, though it’s likely that its mammoth competitors kicked it off the evolutionary tree.

The creatures remain — a bit smaller than the average African elephant — are easily identified by their broad, upward-curving tusks.

As for Jude, he isn’t really as into fossils as he was when he was “little.”

He’ll take the attention, though.

“I’m not really an expert,” the now-10-year-old told the Times. “But I know a lot about it, I guess.”

17th-Century Tunnel Decorated with Pre-Hispanic Carvings Discovered in Mexico

17th-Century Tunnel Decorated with Pre-Hispanic Carvings Discovered in Mexico

Historians in Mexico have found an intriguing, 11 drawings decorated tunnel from the 17th century.

The pictures were created before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, but were incorporated into the walls of the tunnel when it was built centuries later.

This suggests that the Aztecs, known for their magnificent temples, the method of a hieroglyphic writing system, and gruesome penchant for sacrificing children.

In the 15th century, the Aztec emperor Moctezuma I ordered the construction, in an attempt to control severe flooding from surrounding rivers, of a reservoir project in what is now Mexico City.

However, when infamous conquistador Hernán Cortés and his posse arrived, the system was destroyed, before being rebuilt in the 17th century. The dike system is now known as the Albarradon de Ecatepec.  

The stone used in the initial construction was likely repurposed when the dikes were rebuilt, explaining the Aztec symbols etched into the sides of the tunnel.

It is believed they were drawn by locals from the nearby towns of Chiconautla and Ecatepec prior to the Spanish invasion.

The images include both petroglyphs (rock carvings) and stucco relief panels and depict various things, including a war shield or chimalli, the head of a bird of prey, and a flint point.

Some icons are still being carefully examined to assess what they might portray, notes INAH, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The head of a bird of prey drawn on the rock.

The main arch of the tunnel also includes an etching of a temple dedicated to Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain, earthly fertility, and water. He was viewed by the Aztecs as a provider of life and sustenance.

Hidden within the 8-meter (27-foot) tunnel also lay various artifacts made from glass, porcelain, and a type of pottery called majolica, along with a statue of a seated person that appears to be missing its head and the lone feet of a larger statue.  

The discovery is part of a long-term government project to excavate the Albarradón de Ecatepec, which has been running since 2004.

The newly discovered tunnel is located 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the start of the Albarradón in an area called Patio de Diligencias.

The INAH now plans to replace the glyphs with replicas and house the originals in the Casa de Morelos Community Center.

The depiction of a temple dedicated to the Aztec god of rain.

Nodosaur Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Unveiled With Skin And Guts Intact in Canada

Nodosaur Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Unveiled With Skin And Guts Intact in Canada

A heavy equipment company began mining a strange colored stone at Millennium Mine in northern Alberta in 2011.

His supervisor quickly realized that they had something special, Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic. He stopped looking more closely and puzzled the material, which had strange patterns.

A little fossilized skin had recently been extracted from an armored nodosaur, a kind of ankylosaur. Nevertheless, this was not just a fossil; it was one of the best-preserved specimens of nodasaurus ever discovered.

The fossil remains are incredibly lifelike, resembling a sleeping dragon.

According to National Geographic, which sponsored the five-year, 7,000-hour preparation of the fossil, it’s likely that the 3,000-pound,18-foot-long creature died in or near a river. Then its bloated carcass floated out to sea before sinking back-first into the muck where fossilization began.

“It’s basically a dinosaur mummy—it really is exceptional,” Don Brinkman, director of preservation and research at the Royal Tyrrell Museum where the fossil is housed tells Craig S. Smith at The New York Times.

The remarkable preservation of its armored plates, as well as some preserved scales, are helping paleontologists finally understand the size and shape of the creature’s keratin defenses.

“I’ve been calling this one the Rosetta stone for armor,” Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Tyrrell Museum tells Greshko.

The nodasaurus fossil on display (Courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Canada)
The nodosaur has been described by some scientists as the “rhinoceros of its day.”

As Matt Rehbein at CNN reports, the dino is 110 million years old, making it the oldest ever found in Alberta. It also represents a new genus and species of nodosaur. But the most exciting aspect may be at the microscopic level, Greshko reports.

The researchers have detected miniscule bits of red pigment, which could help them reconstruct the dinosaur’s coloration—a feature that may have helped it attract mates.

“This armor was clearly providing protection, but those elaborated horns on the front of its body would have been almost like a billboard,” Jakob Vinther, an animal coloration expert from the University of Bristol who has studied the fossil, tells Greshko.

The new specimen isn’t the only exceptional ankylosaur specimen recently unveiled. Just last week Brian Switek at Smithsonian.com reported that the Royal Ontario Museum discovered a new species in Montana, which they nicknamed Zuul. That specimen also has some intact armor plates and skin as well as a tail club.

Switek explains that during decomposition the armor plates of ankylosaurs typically fall off and are often washed away or not found.

But the discovery of these two extraordinary samples will go a long way towards helping researchers figure just what these animals looked like and how they used their formidable horns and armor.

The nodosaurus is now on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, as part of an exhibit highlighting the importance of cooperation between extraction industries and paleontologists in uncovering fossils.

Spanish Armor Plate Discovered in North Carolina

Spanish Armor Plate Discovered in North Carolina, U.S.A

Spanish soldiers took over the Native city of Catwba, Joara, about 60 miles east of Asheville, on an excursion from Florida about 450 years ago.

Fort San Juan is the first known European settlement to be established in the south-east of the USA about fourteen years before the British came to Jamestown. In Appalachia, Spanish became the first European language.

The story of Spanish soldiers coming to Catawba is, like much of American colonial history, characterized by colonization and ethnocentrism.

David Moore, an archeology teacher at Warren Wilson College, said: “There’s this sense of who is the other,” For nearly three decades Moore has been the executive archeologist, who has been leading research and excavations at the Barry site. Fort San Juan was about the size of a modern-day basketball court. He says the remains of the structure are more intact than any other colonial fort in North America. 

The site of the Spanish army’s Fort San Juan near Morganton.

“In effect, it’s 100 percent intact. We have the entire outline of it,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, plowing over the years has destroyed the upper levels of it, but it’s still far more intact than any other Spanish colonial fort. “

When Spanish explorer Captain Juan Pardo and his men arrived in 1566, they declared the Catawba Indians, who didn’t speak their language, new subjects of the king. The Spaniards forced the natives to construct the soldier’s homes and provide them meals. While the two groups lived side-by-side, the relationship was fraught by mounting mistrust and resentment. 

“So this relationship of two groups understanding each other very poorly, trying to figure out what to do with the other was constantly in the air,” Moore said. 

The tension ultimately propelled the Catawba to force the Spanish army out, changing the course of American history.  The absence of the Spaniards allowed for  English colonists to move inland and take their place. It’s how the English language gained a foothold in the region. 

“That colonial experience continued to be detrimental for native peoples,” Moore said. “The effects of the slave trade, of diseases, and of the political, economic and social disruption of tribal groups that ended up collapsing a social and political system that had been in place for nearly a thousand years.” 

There’s one particular artifact Moore’s team found that offers a snapshot of the Spaniards’ suspicion — and superstition. 

“We found a small piece of scrap metal, almost square in shape, and about an inch and a half in diameter,” Moore said. They discovered it was a small plate of armor, the kind that was sewn into garments during the medieval period. It was placed vertically in the soil, next to a post in the framework of a Spanish soldier’s house. 

A vest lined with a jack of plate armor believed to be English or Scottish, from 1590.

Moore and his team were perplexed by the armor until one historian reached out offering multiple references in Medieval European literature. Metal objects were commonly placed in the frames of homes to fend off black magic.  

“A Spanish soldier had placed this in the building to ward off witches, especially because Indian women were feeding them,” Moore said. “Many people think of native peoples being uncivilized, but here we have modern Europeans employing this kind of folklore to ward off magic. 

That wasn’t lost on Catawba Indian Beckee Garris when she first learned about the Spaniard’s supernatural object. “I kind of laughed, because, in all cultures, there’s a bad person, or a particularly bad spirit, if you want to call it that,” Garris said. 

Garris is a storyteller. She also makes Catawba pottery, much like the fragments scattered across the archaeological site. Garris says she makes pots the same way her ancestors did 500 years ago — without a kiln and with clay harvested from the same spot.

“It not only touches my heart, but it also touches my soul that our buried history is coming to light again. We are learning about ourselves now as well about our past,” Garris said. “Before European contact, there was no written history. Everything was passed down orally, and you had to hide who you were because of prejudices and laws that were made by the government.”

David Moore shows WCU students a rendering of the Spanish fort during a visit to the excavation site in September.

Bringing visibility to these early American stories still is a work in progress. The English settlers’ arrival in Jamestown exactly 400 years ago is commonly seen as the beginning of European colonization in the US. 

“This is something that we struggle within the US. White folks are not the first folks to have been here,” Paul Worley, Western Carolina University associate professor of global literature, said. He recently took students from Latinx Studies composition and literature classes to the excavation site.  

“Given the current moment in the United States, I think it’s a fairly radical thing to go back and talk about these histories,” Worley said. “Both on the Native American side and both on the Spanish colonial side. Because these are both histories that are frequently denied or ignored altogether.”

Worley wants students to think about US history from a multicultural and multilingual perspective – to consider writings from Spanish explorers, Native Americans and enslaved Africans. And maybe, he says, resurrecting those narratives will reframe the retelling of America’s story, both past, and present. 

For the archaeologist, there are still lessons to be learned from the Joara-Fort San Juan site. “450 years ago this tragedy unfolds because people don’t acknowledge the humanness of each other. That’s certainly a lesson we’re still trying to learn today,” David Moore said.  

Mysterious Secret Tunnel Discovered Under Ancient Pyramid in Mexico

Mysterious Secret Tunnel Discovered Under Ancient Pyramid in Mexico

As we use advanced archeological techniques, we appear to create incredible findings at various ancient locations, like Teotihuacan in Mexico.

Recently, in Teotihuacán’s ancient town northeast of Mexico City, archeologists have discovered a secret tunnel under the famous Moon Pyramid.

Hidden for ages, the underground tunnel, as archeologists claim, could represent the underworld as a component of the ancient system of belief in the Pre-Colombian civilization that once thrived here. The Moon Pyramid is the second largest structure seen in Teotihuacán.

The site was most certainly built 2,000 years ago, by a civilization that pre-dates the Aztecs who were later occupants of Teotihuacán.

According to National Geographic, the tunnel extends in length from the central square, known as Plaza de la Luna, and goes toward the nearby pyramid. It is at a depth of about 33 feet and is similar to a few other tunnels that had been discovered in the past.

The Pyramid of the Moon

This newest discovery was made with the help of a method known as electrical resistivity tomography that is able to generate subterranean imagery.

A team of archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History employed the method as part of their conservation effort concerning the central square at the ancient location. Nobody has yet been able to access the tunnel and see what’s hidden inside.

Gomes Believe that tunnel is one of the most important discoveries in the history of Mexico.
Gomes Believe that tunnel is one of the most important discoveries in the history of Mexico.

The Pyramid of the Moon could have been used for human sacrifice and a number of other rituals–claims that are based on studies of human remains located at burial sites in the complex.

As the purpose of the tunnel cannot be completely clear at the moment, it is up to further research to learn more details and recover artifacts.

The history of the ancient city of Teotihuacán is complex, but most certainly it was one of the largest cities in the Americas of pre-Columbian times, believed to have housed at least 125,000 people.

The Pyramid of the Moon, as the second-largest pyramid after the Pyramid of the Sun, imitates the contours of the mountain Cerro Gordo, that is just north of the site.

“Tenan” is one more name used for the site by some people, which in Nahuatl (Aztec) means “Mother of protective stone.” Estimates suggest the massive structure was built sometime before 200 AD, making it older than its bigger counterpart, the Pyramid of the Sun.

Pyramids of the Sun and Moon on the Avenue of the Dead, Teotihuacan ancient historic cultural city, old ruins of Aztec civilization, Mexico, North America

A slope found on the front of the pyramid’s staircase enables access to the Avenue of the Dead, a platform situated on the top of the pyramid.

This place was used to worship the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan, the deity of water, fertility, the Earth, and also creation itself. The platform, as well as a prominent sculpture unearthed at the bottom of the pyramid, are most certainly dedicated to this major deity.

The Plaza of the Moon, from where the newly uncovered tunnel extends towards the pyramid, is just opposite the altar of the Great Goddess. Its structure is composed of a central altar, plus a formation designated the “Teotihuacan Cross.”

Aerial view of the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Teotihuacan, México.

There is no doubt that an intelligent construction system was employed to build not only the monumental bases of the two great pyramids but also the entire city.

While evidence suggests the pyramids have undergone several intricate phases of construction, the entire city of Teotihuacán has signs that it was very carefully planned as well, incorporating its main axis and a great palace surrounded by 15 monumental pyramids in the design.

Tombs found in the location have contained human skeletons, but also a variety of animal bones, obsidian blades, pieces of jewelry and a number of other types of offerings. Despite all finds so far, many questions concerning Teotihuacán’s history and culture still need to be answered.