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August 05, 2003

Tomb raiding in Oaxaca

Raided in the nicest possible way, you understand. A tomb has been opened under the patios of ancient El Palmillo:

On the walls and roofs, Feinman believes the residents cultivated an array of cacti that provided them with food and textiles that allowed them to prosper in an area too dry to grow corn or much else. Their primary staple was probably agave cactus, which the Spaniards later began distilling into mezcal, a liquor.

Mmm. Mezcal. Cactus was also used for fencing and marking property boundaries. I first learned of this practice from another region of Mexico when I was introduced to my favourite relic at the Royal Academy's recent Aztec exhibition: a stone-cactus which acted as a boundary marker between the Aztec capital and a neighbouring city-state (no luck so far finding an image of it). Tenochca, or people of the prickly-pear cactus, is the proper name of the Aztecs so-called for the foundation myth of Tenochtitlan. "Cactus Rock" was the rock-hard cool name of what is now Mexico City. It's founding myth is illustrated prominently in Mexico's flag.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 5, 2003 10:25 AM