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Ancient turquoise Aztec and Mixtec from local Mesoamerica

Penelitian - Scientists overturn more than a century of thought about the source of turquoise used by ancient civilizations in Mesoamerica that stretches from Central Mexico to Central America. The old assumption that the Mesoamerican civilization that imported turquoise from Southwest is not fully proven by new evidence.

Experts have been thinking of the Aztec and Mixtec civilizations that adored the precious blue-green minerals imported from the Southwest of the United States. But the new report using extensive geochemical analysis reveals the true geological source of Aztec and Mixtec turquoise located within the Mesoamerican region.

Penelitian Ancient turquoise Aztec and Mixtec from local Mesoamerica

Geochemist Alyson Thibodeau of Dickinson College in Carlisle and the team measured the isotope marks of the Mesoamerican turquoise artefacts associated with the Aztecs and Mixtecs. The isotopes of lead and strontium in the turquoise-encrusted mosaic fragments are one of the most iconic forms of ancient Mesoamerican art.

Samples including dozens of greenish-green mosaic tiles unearthed from offerings in the Templo Major are the centers of Aztec rites and ceremonies. The researchers also analyzed five tiles on Mixteca-style objects at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indians. Analysis shows turquoise artifacts have isotope marks that are consistent with Mesoamerican geology, not the Southwest.

"It revises our understanding of rare objects and provides a new perspective on the availability of turquoise as a valuable luxury resource in ancient Mesoamerica," Thibodeau said.

The team is a decade-long collaboration between archaeologists and isotope geochemists to understand the nature of the turquoise circulation and trade in southwestern North America. Thibodeau previously showed signs of isotopes can distinguish between turquoise deposits throughout the southwest and identify the geological source of turquoise artefacts from archaeological sites.

"These findings reshape our understanding of the nature and range of long-distance contact between the people of Mesoamerica and the Southwest. I hope this inspires people to be skeptical of claims," Thibodeau said.

Journal : Alyson M. Thibodeau et al. Was Aztec and Mixtec turquoise mined in the American Southwest?, Science Advances, 13 Jun 2018, DOI:10.1126/sciadv.aas9370

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