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Archaeologists may have discovered lost settlement of Apancalecan

In an announcement by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), archaeologists may have discovered the lost settlement of Apancalecan in Mexico’s Costa Grande of Guerrero region.

The discovery was made following an inspection carried out on communal land by the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico in the municipality of Tecpan de Galeana.

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Archaeologists have found a large pre-Hispanic settlement spread over an area of 71.6 acres, which contains an arrangement of 26 mounds centred on a large central mound up to 25 metres in height with a base of 73.5 metres by 60 metres.

Excavations have also found adjacent plazas where altars and two smooth stelae were recorded, in addition to residential areas, ball courts, and elongated structures possibly associated with the storage of water. A study of the ceramic material recovered on the surface suggests that the site was first inhabited during the Classic period around AD 200 to 650.

Based on a comparison with historical sources from the 16th century, the researchers suggest that the settlement could correspond with the settlement of Apancalecan, referred to on Plate 18 of the Codex Matrícula de Tributos, a pre-Hispanic document that recorded the tribute paid to the Aztec empire by conquered towns.

At the time, Apancalecan was part of the region of Cihuatlan, which was annexed into the Aztec territories between AD 1497 and AD 1502 by Ahuitzotl, the eighth Aztec ruler. During his reign, Ahuitzotl conquered the Mixtec, Zapotec, and other peoples from Pacific Coast of Mexico down to the western part of Guatemala, more than doubling the lands under Aztec dominance.

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Regarding the Nahua meaning of Apancalecan, the word is made up of apan (apantli, ditch water channel), calli (house) and can (locative), which is loosely translated as “Place of the house with water channels”.

Following the Spanish conquest, Apancalecan was renamed to Tequepa, as recorded on a map in AD 1570 by cartographer Abraham Ortelius, however, the location of the settlement was lost until now.

INAH

Header Image Credit : INAH

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 8,000 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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