Archaeologists have found a house in Tlatelolco that was reused as a temple and cemetery during the first years of Spanish rule. Credit: José Antonio Lopez

Aztec Discovery Rewrites History of Spanish Conquests

Excavations confirmed that a few years after the Spanish conquest, the surviving indigenous groups returned to the Aztec city of Tlatelolco.

Mexican archaeologists reported incredible discoveries made during excavations of the Aztec city of Tlatelolco. They discovered 36 burials, six of which were in locally made spherical vessels. Also, during the excavation of a residential area and a craft workshop, scientists have found 112 types of ceramics and more than 200 female figurines from the post-classical and colonial periods.

The Aztecs returned to the city of Tlatelolco soon after the Spanish conquests: Everything you need to know

The city of Tlatelolco

On the territory of modern Mexico City in 1337, the Aztecs founded the city ​​of Tlatelolco and proclaimed their independence from Tenochtitlan. The market was of great importance in the life of the city, which, according to various estimates, was visited daily by 30 to 60 thousand buyers and sellers.

Trade center

There, people were able to buy food, jewelry made of precious metals, animal bones, shells of mollusks, as well as building stone or bricks. In 1521, Tlatelolco was conquered by the Spaniards and destroyed. However, in subsequent years, some of the surviving Aztecs returned to the city.


On the territory of this archaeological site, excavations began in the 20th century. One of the largest finds made during this time occurred at the end of 2008. Then archaeologists found a collective burial of 49 people dating back to the time of the Spanish conquest.

Unusual grave

The peculiarity of this grave lies in the fact that the bodies lay on their backs with their arms crossed on their chests. Instead of coffins, their remains lay in large cactus leaves. Almost all of the victims were tall young men and identified as warriors. In addition to them, the grave contained the remains of two children, a teenager and an elderly man who wore a ring, which probably reflected his high social status.

Archaeologists discover the remains of a residential area and a craft workshop

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico, led by Jose Lopez, during excavations of the Aztec city of Tlatelolco discovered the remains of a residential area and a craft workshop, which confirm that a few years after the Spanish conquest, the surviving indigenous groups returned to their ancient settlement. They continued to conduct religious ceremonies and rituals, which was a kind of cultural resistance.


Scientists noted that the discovered finds belong to the post-classical (1200-1521 AD) and early colonial (1521-1650 AD) periods. In the southern part of the residential area, archaeologists discovered a ritual sector, the architecture of which led to the conclusion that the structures were repopulated between 1525 and 1547. Among the finds were spherical ceramic vessels, as well as human remains from the colonial era.


Archaeologists have found two anthropomorphic sculptures 40 and 35 centimeters high, next to which there were traces of offerings. The figures depict two seated characters. One was made of basalt and has some blue pigment around the hair and some black and blue on the cheeks. The second was carved from volcanic stone with traces of red and black pigments around the eyes.


Scientists noted that it is difficult to interpret these sculptures at the present time and, perhaps, they acquired significance within the framework of religious and cultural resistance.

Ceramics and figurines

Archaeologists have summed up that a total of 112 types of ceramics and more than 200 female figurines were found on the excavated site in the city of Tlatelolco.

Excavation of the craft workshop

During the excavation of the craft workshop, archaeologists discovered large quantities of gray, gold, and green obsidian. In addition, archaeologists have found a total of 36 graves of children and adults throughout the site. It is noteworthy that the remains of six people were in spherical vessels of local production, which were used as burial urns: two from the pre-Hispanic and four from the colonial periods.

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HeritageDaily. (n.d.). Evidence of cultural resistance by indigenous groups after Spanish conquest OF TLATELOLCO.
Cervera, F. (2021, September 7). Los mexicas siguieron adorando a sus dioses tras la conquista española. Historia National Geographic
Bienvenidos al INAH. (2021, September 8). Arqueólogos del INAH encuentran indicios de la resistencia CULTURAL indígena Tras la CONQUISTA, en la Periferia de La Zona Arqueológica de Tlatelolco.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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