Physical anthropologist Jorge Arturo Talavera González examines 1 of 17 skeletons—including 11 child burials—unearthed recently in Mexico City. The remains, he said, offer evidence of a merchant neighborhood of an Aztec people known as the Tepanec, whose glory days were some 700 years ago.
Found with the remains of a newborn baby in her arms, the woman pictured above must have died after giving birth, said Talavera González, who is affiliated with Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
Further analysis is required to pin down causes of death for the 17 burials, but holes in some of the skulls hint at human sacrifice. Around the bodies, experts also found an altar, fragments of rooms, and various ceremonial objects.
Little is known about the Tepanec, for two reasons, said Arizona State University (ASU) anthropologist Michael Smith. First, they ruled oppressively another group called the Mexica, who eventually rose to power and "systematically wrote the Tepanec empire out of the history books."
Second, most Tepanec cities are located underneath Mexico City, making them difficult to investigate.
(Related pictures: "Unburying the Aztec.")