Washington, May 14 (ANI): Archaeologists have discovered an island for ancient elites in central Mexico, which has ruins where some artifacts have been found that indicate that the inhabitants used to smoke pipes and drink alcoholic drinks, such as tequila, from A.D. 1400 to 1520.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the island features ruins of a treasury and a small pyramid that may have been used for rituals.
The island, called Apupato, belonged to the powerful Tarascan Empire, which dominated much of western Mexico from A.D. 1400 to 1520, before the European conquest of the region.
The Purepecha people-named Tarascan by the Spanish-were formidable enemies with their neighbors, the Aztec.
From their powerful capital city and religious center Tzintzuntzan, the Tarascans successfully thwarted every attack by the Aztec.
Tarascan people valued such products as honey, cotton, feathers, and salt, and they often expanded into neighboring lands in search of these goods.
Fisher and colleagues found a square structure with a formal entrance that is believed to have been an imperial treasury.
Adjacent to the treasury is a small pyramid, which has large, open rooms that would have been suitable for ritual activity.
Pipe fragments were also found near the treasury. The pipe discoveries may bear out ritual descriptions on a previously found ancient Spanish scroll.
The scroll shows people smoking pipes and drinking pulque-a drink made of agave, a crucial crop used for alcoholic drinks, such as tequila, and syrup, according to Fisher.
The scroll also describes ritual treasury caches dedicated to specific gods.
"Toward the end of the island's Tarascan occupation, the area was a "ritual center" where people of elite status lived and worked," said Fisher.
The team identified a colonial-era chapel from the early 1500s, built in the first 20 years of the Spanish conquest.
"Evidence of crop cultivation also suggests that humans continuously occupied the site for 2,000 years," Fisher said.
The entire island was covered in agricultural terraces, possibly to grow agave.
People created the terraces by digging sections of land about 6.6 feet (2 meters) wide, with earthen walls and a ditch on either side. (ANI)