Category Archives: Culture

Teotihuacan hides secrets but reveals new mysteries

The Guardian – For decades, the hunt for a royal tomb at the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacán has gripped archaeologists trying to unravel the secrets of the kingdom’s extraordinary political power. It is a mystery investigators thought they were on the verge of solving in 2015, when large quantities of liquid mercury were found amid a treasure trove of precious artefacts in a secret tunnel.

Mexico revives 3,000-year-old ball game

BBC -The finals of a revived 3,000-year-old ball game have been played in the Mexican city of Teotihuacan. Organisers have been trying to bring back the game, known as Ullamaliztli in Mexico, because of its ancient cultural and religious significance. The game was played in Central America and parts of North America before being banned by the Spanish conquistadors.

Ancient temple revealed when drought drains reservoir

Metro – A drought has revealed a 400-year-old Dominican church that has remained intact despite spending decades underwater in a reservoir in Mexico. The church was submerged in the 1960s when the nearby Benito Juarez Dam was built. A severe drought in Mexico has caused the water level to drop so much the temple is now almost completely visible.

First baby registered with maternal last names

AP – The first baby in Mexico to be officially named with the maternal surnames of both parents has been registered in the northern state of Nuevo Leon. The tradition in Latin America is to give babies two last names — the father’s surname, followed by the mother’s paternal surname. So baby Bárbara, born to José González de Diego and Alicia Vera Zboralska would normally have been named Bárbara González Vera, losing both parents’ maternal surnames. But to honor the maternal line, the couple won a court injunction allowing them to name their child Bárbara de Diego Zboralska.

Carlos Fuentes: Mexico’s mestizo master

WSJ – For a few years in the 1980s, American critics had their hatchets out for the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes. A leading figure of the Latin American literary boom, Fuentes (1928-2012) had steadily risen in prominence with cerebral, kaleidoscopic novels such as “The Death of Artemio Cruz” (1962) and “Terra Nostra” (1975). In 1985, he had a surprise best seller north of the border, “The Old Gringo,” about Ambrose Bierce’s final days among Pancho Villa’s revolutionary army. The novel’s success brought him to the attention of the American commentariat, and he began giving interviews and writing op-eds arguing against U.S. meddling in Latin America. 

Gay couples fight same-sex marriage backlash

The Guardian – Same-sex couples have been able to marry in Mexico since 2009, when the country’s capital became the first city in Latin America to pass marriage equality laws. But in recent months, a well-organized and well-funded backlash has emerged, claiming credit for derailing a presidential proposal to entrench marriage equality in the country’s constitution.

Mexico is hiding the world’s largest pyramid

Daily Beast -I n 1519, Hernán Cortés and his conquistadors arrived in Cholula, one of the largest cities in central Mexico. Roughly 50 miles southeast from modern day Mexico City, its tens of thousands of residents sat in the shadows of the 17,000 foot Popocatépetl volcano. It had a temple featuring more stairs, claimed one Spaniard, than the main pyramid in Tenochtitlan. The Spanish tore it down, and rebuilt Cholula in the same fashion they did across Mexico—replacing “demon-worshipping” sites with Catholic ones.

That also meant a hermit’s shrine on top of a large hill called Tlachihualtepetl had to go. But the hill itself was in fact, no hill. Its name translates to “man-made mountain” and inside it was the largest pyramid remaining in the Americas, and by some estimates the largest monument ever constructed by man. But its secrets as one of the most important religious sites in Mesoamerica would remain hidden for 400 years—and is still being uncovered today.

Temple to wind god found beneath supermarket

The Guardian – Archaeologists working in Mexico City have uncovered a circular temple built more than 650 years ago to worship a god of wind. It was excavated at a site discovered two years ago when a mid-20th-century supermarket was demolished. The circular platform, about 36ft in diameter and 4ft tall, now sits in the shadow of a shopping mall under construction.

Turkeys were on the menu in Mexico 1,500 years ago

A boy and his mother with domestic turkeys in Oaxaca, near the location where the ancient turkey remains were discovered. (Linda Nicholas/ The Field Museum)
A boy and his mother with domestic turkeys in Oaxaca, near the location where the ancient turkey remains were discovered. (Linda Nicholas/ The Field Museum)

By Mindy Weisberger / Live Science

On Thanksgiving Day, millions of Americans will sit down to enjoy a traditional turkey dinner. Although the U.S. holiday is only a few centuries old, archaeological evidence suggests that in Mexico’s central valleys of Oaxaca, turkey was on the menu much earlier — starting at least 1,500 years ago.

In fact, the amount of turkey remains found at a site inhabited by the Zapotec people suggests that turkey meals back then were “second only to dog” in popularity, the researchers wrote in a new study.

The archaeologists described excavating the remains of adult and juvenile turkeys; whole, unhatched eggs; and eggshell fragments from two residential structures dated between A.D. 300 and 1200.

The locations and context of the bones and eggshells suggested both domestic and ritual use of the animals, and “multiple lines of evidence” hinted that the breeding and raising of turkeys were commonplace in the region by A.D. 400 to 600, providing the earliest known evidence of turkey domestication, the study authors wrote.

Mariachis parade in Mexico City to honor patron saint

Reuters – Hundreds of mariachi folk musicians filled the streets of Mexico City on Tuesday to celebrate and serenade the feast day of Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Clad in their traditional cropped jackets and wide sombreros, the mariachi guitarists, trumpeters and violinists played songs and marched in procession to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Congress panel rejects same-sex marriage

Fox – Mexico’s congressional committee rejected a measure on Wednesday that would’ve legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. The measure on enshrining same-sex couples’ right to wed in the constitution was defeated 19-8, with one abstention, in the Commission on Constitutional Matters.

How Mexico combines Halloween and Day of the Dead into one surreal celebration

That Mexicans can find humor in death seems clear from the enduring popularity of La Catrina. (Getty)
That Mexicans can find humor in death seems clear from the enduring popularity of La Catrina. (Getty)

By Patrick J. McDonnell / Los Angeles Times

Mexico’s beloved grande dame of death, a stylishly attired skeleton named La Catrina, her grinning skull topped with trademark hat, has company in the market stands here: Hollywood extraterrestrials, Batman and other superheroes, along with sundry witches and monsters.

In Mexico, customs originating in Europe and the indigenous world often meld in a surprisingly seamless fashion.

So it is with Halloween, a tradition born in Europe and transported  from the United States, and Day of the Dead, a Mexican remembrance of the deceased with pre-Hispanic origins.

The two holidays — Halloween on Oct.  31 and Day of the Dead two days later — have fused here into a multi-day, sometimes surreal celebration and a bonanza for pinata and mask makers, costume fabricators and bakers specializing in sugary offerings for the departed. At the sprawling Sonora Market here, the final shopping days are frantic.

On Saturday, Mexico City held its first Day of the Dead parade, a runaway success that saw the route through downtown jammed with more 250,000 people, many in full Halloween mode, decked out in skeleton regalia, their faces painted like skulls.

Across all social strata, many Mexicans dress up for Halloween, also known as Noche de Brujas, or Night of the Witches, then prepare altars known as ofrendas for deceased ancestors and loved ones.

“My mother liked to put up very big ofrendas with a lot of decoration,” says Alejandro Diaz Fernandez, 46, a school bus driver who has arrived at Sonora Market’s “auditorium,” a room the size of an airplane hangar, to load up on chocolate skulls, incense and marigolds. The orange flowers, known as cempasuchil, are ubiquitous in the run-up to Day of the Dead.