Native American 14th-century‘ sweat lodge’ discovered in Mexico City
A native American sauna from the 14th century has been discovered in Mexico City.
The so-called sweat lodge’ was discovered at an archaeological site in Mexico City’s La Merced neighbourhood.
The room is thought to have been used to purify the bodies of locals in a variety of situations, including medical purposes, religious ceremonies, and childbirth. Remains of pre-Hispanic ‘sweat lodge’ discovered in Mexico.
The sweat lodge, known as a ‘temazcal’ in pre-Hispanic culture, was part of the noble neighbourhood of Temazcaltitlan, in the Teopan area of the state of Tenochtitlan, according to the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
A sweat lodge is a low profile hut where a purification ceremony was conducted which aimed to cleanse a person by inducing perspiration.
The foundation of a colonial house and a tannery inhabited by people of the Mexica nobility between 1521 and 1620 AD were also found at the excavation site.
‘The findings suggest that in the 16th Century this area was more populated than we initially thought,’ said Víctor Esperón Calleja, who led the excavation work, the BBC reports.
Temazcals were used to purify the body after exertion such as after a battle and also for healing the sick, improving health and aiding in childbirth.
Tenochtitlan was a large city-state inhabited by the Mexica, the indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico who ruled the Aztec Empire between 1428 and 1521 AD.
The city is believed to have been built on an island in what was then Lake Texococo in the Valley of Mexico.
Victor Esperon Calleja told local media: ‘The site is part of a protected area and that is why Archaeological Rescue Office of the INAH has intervened.
‘Tenochtitlan was divided into four parts and we are in the part called Teopan in a neighbourhood called Temazcaltitlan where the sweat lodges were.’
The INAH has confirmed that the foundation of the temazcal is 16.4 feet (five metres) long and 9.7 feet (2.98 metres) wide with a bathtub and a bench inside its walls.
According to historical records, a dame from the Mexican nobility called Quetzalmoyahuatzin bathed in the temazcal in a purifying ritual before giving birth.
Archaeologists believe the neighbourhood was used as an area for worshipping female deities such as Ixcuina, the goddess of the labour; Tlazolteotl the deity of vice, purification, steam baths and lust; and Ayopechtli the goddess of birth proper.
Other female deities related to fertility, the land or water were also worshipped such as Coatlicue, Toci, Chalchiuhtlicue and Mayahuel.