ancient NEWS

Elsa Hernandez measures a wall built over an ancient site in Mexico City.
Elsa Hernandez measures a wall built over an ancient site in Mexico City. (By Alexandre Meneghini -- Associated Press)
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Found at Last: The Halls Of Montezuma

· Mexican archaeologists have unearthed the remains of an Aztec palace in the heart of what is now downtown Mexico City.

During a routine renovation on a Colonial-era building, experts uncovered pieces of a wall as well as a rocky floor believed to have been part of a dark room where the emperor Montezuma meditated, archaeology team leader Elsa Hernandez said.

Montezuma was the Aztec emperor when Spanish conqueror Hernando Cortés marched into the Valley of Mexico in 1519.

When the Aztec empire fell in 1521, its structures were destroyed by the Spanish, who built what is now Mexico City atop their ruins.

Experts had long thought Montezuma's palace stood roughly where the ruins were found, Hernandez said. Excavations are planned under several parts of the Colonial building, which houses the Museum of Culture.

Skeletons Show Roman Workers Had Tough Jobs

· In other ancient news, a 1st-century burial ground outside Rome is giving archaeologists a rare look into how ancient laborers did backbreaking jobs.

Most of the 300 skeletons unearthed near the town of Ponte Galeria were male, and many of them showed signs of years of heavy work: joint and tendon inflammation, compressed vertebrae, hernias and spinal problems, archaeologists said.

They concluded that the men probably carried loads on their backs at a nearby port during the early years of imperial Rome, said Gabriella Gatto, a spokeswoman for the archaeology office.

Artifacts found in the necropolis were simple ones, including lanterns to guide the dead to their next life, Gatto said.

The burial ground is one of the biggest to be excavated near Rome in recent years and one of the few to show how the ancient working class lived, archaeologists said.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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