Tlatelolco is an archaeological excavation site in Mexico City where remains of the pre-Columbian city-state of the same name have been found. The main temple of Tlatelolco – one of the excavated buildings, has recently seen the discovery of a pyramid inside the visible temple, which is more than 700 years old.
Tlatelolco is centred on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, a square surrounded on three sides by an excavated Aztec site, a 17th-century church called the Templo de Santiago, and a modern office complex of the foreign ministry.
The discovery of the inner pyramid within the main temple indicates that the site is older than previously thought. Because it has design features similar to pyramids found in Tenayuca and Tenochtitlan, it may prove to be the first mixed Aztec and Tlatelolca construction found.
On 10 February 2009, INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) announced the discovery of a mass grave containing 49 human skeletons, laid out in neat lines on their backs, with their arms crossed and wrapped in maguey leaves. The archaeologists located the skeletons in a 4-by-10-metre burial site when they took part in a search for a palace complex.
The remains found include those of forty-five young adults, two children, a teenager, and an elderly person wearing a ring that potentially signifies a higher status. Most of the young men were tall and several had broken bones that had healed (characteristic feature of warriors). The grave contained both evidences of Aztec rituals, such as offerings of incense and animal sacrifice, as well as Spanish elements, such as buttons and glass items. According to Salvador Guilliem, the head of the site for the governmental archaeology institute, it was likely that the indigenous people buried in the grave died while fighting the invading Spanish or were killed by diseases, such as hemorrhagic fever epidemic, responsible for wiping out a large proportion of the native population in 1545 and 1576.
Because of the manner in which the bodies were buried, the graves at Tlatelolco differ from most other Spanish conquest-era graves in the area. The burial was similar to Christian customs of the time, as opposed to the thousands of graves found in other Aztec cities, where bodies were thrown in without care.