File photo of a turquoise mask, probably representing the sun god, Tonatiuh, at an exhibition in the museum on the Aztecs.
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
For a long time, scientists have thought that the Aztecs had a lot of contact with groups in what is now the American Southwest. But a new chemical analysis of ancient turquoise artifacts just a giant hole in that theory.
It now appears that the Aztecs and other meso-american civilization known as the Mixtecs mined their own turquoise, rather than the trade with northerners, reports Ars Technica.
Both civilizations lived in what is now central Mexico, Central America, used turquoise extensively in their cultures, according to a message on Phys.org. But because archaeologists have never found turquoise mines in the region, scientists have long concluded that the mineral must have come from the AMERICAN Southwest.
In the study In the Science Advances, however, a team of Dickinson College says in its analysis demonstrates that the turquoise in the place of meso-america. “I saw the number pop up and I’m pretty sure that I dance around the lab,” geochemist Alyson Thibodeau tells the New York Times.
“Not only do they have isotopic signatures that are completely consistent with the geology of central america, but they are completely different from the isotopic signatures of the Southwestern turquoise, deposits, and artifacts that we’ve seen until now.” The search goes further than where the groups got their gems—it raises the question on the larger idea that the Aztecs and Mixtecs were regularly trading of, and otherwise in contact with cultures in the AMERICAN Southwest before they were conquered in the early 1500’s.
How to explain the absence of mines? Just because we have not yet found, does not mean that they do not exist, said Thibodeau. (A centuries old Aztec mystery seems to be solved earlier this year.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: Old Turquoise Reformulation of the Aztec History