La Quemada: Conjunto Pirámide-Osario

Patio Circular and El Cuartel
W0160: Patio Circular and El Cuartel
The Patio Circular is found on Level 2 of La Quemada’s ceremonial core and was constructed in the middle of the 7th century. It sits within a greater religious complex known as the Conjunto Pirámide-Osario, which translates to the “Pyramid and Graveyard Group”. The group overlooks the Cuartel complex (seen just beyond the circular patio in fig. W0160), and it appears that the two complexes were integrated, with the Cuartel functioning as a residential area and celestial observatory for the priests of La Quemada and Conjunto Pirámide-Osario acting as a sacred space for making offerings to the celestial Gods in light of what portents they observed. A small two metre high sacrificial pyramid is found at the north of the group (directly behind the view seen in W0160) and appears to be a scaled down version of the Votive Pyramid. Around the pyramid archaeologists uncovered 200 human skulls and various human bones, and an adobe shrine mounted on top also contained human skulls, jawbones and long bones. Some of the skulls had drill holes demonstrating that they had once been hung, possibly on a portable skull rack – or tzompantli. It also suggests the human remains were brought here from elsewhere. The practice of hanging bones and the creation of circular patios is also found at the nearby centre of Chalchihuites, also known as Alta Vista, which is thought to have been settled from around 100AD. Therefore, the Conjunto Pirámide-Osario appears to evidence a link between La Quemada and the Chalchihuites culture.

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