Some of the inhabitants of this area before the Conquest were the Cohuixas and the Chontals. The indigenous community located at what is now the southern edge of the town dates back to at least 350 C. E. This community was an important regional ceremonial center as well as the headquarters for the guardian soldiers. It was also closely associated with the production of cotton and cotton products, a valuable commodity at the time. Ixcateopan was one of the last cities to be subjugated by the Aztec Empire. The location served as a point to gather and then distribute tribute from surrounding areas. Mexica from other parts of the Aztec Empire, including soldiers, came here due to the wars between them and the Purépecha Empire. Because of this, Ixcateopan, originally a purely Chontal city, became multicultural.
Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor, was born here in 1501. His mother, Cuayauhtitali, was the daughter of the lord of Ixcateopan. Shortly before Cuauhtémoc was born, Ixcateopan was subjugated by the Aztecs and Cuayauhtitli was captured and brought to Tenochtitlan. There she met prince Ahuizotl, who married her. Cuahtémoc was born of this union. Cuauhtémoc was educated in Tenochtitlan and then sent back to Ixcateopan. In 1519, he was called back to the Aztec capital to help defend it against the Spanish. After the deaths of Emperors Moctezuma II and, a short time later, Cuitláhuac, Cuauhtémoc became emperor, but was a captive of Hernán Cortés when Tenochtitlan fell in 1521. After enduring much torture, he and nine other Aztec lords were hung near a place called Izancánac in what is now Chiapas state. The remains of Cuauhtemoc, the other Aztec lords and a priest who opposed their execution were brought to Ixcateopan and buried here. From that time to the mid-20th fotos de ixcateopan de cuauhtemoc guerrero century, the whereabouts of his tomb remained unknown.
Fray Torbio de Benavente, the local evangelist, and Fray Bernardino de Sahagún wrote texts about the death and burial of Cuauhtémoc which were initially kept at the Church of San Hipólito in Mexico City but somehow wound up in the hands of the family of Salvador Rodriguez Juárez, who was the doctor of Ixcateopan in the first half of the 20th century. The documents had been passed down in his family for generations. They told of how Cuauhtémoc’s body had been recovered and brought to Ixcateopan and initially buried at the palace of his maternal grandparents in 1525. In 1529, Fray Toribio de Benavente had the body moved to a spot in front of the destroyed pagan temple, where the Church of Santa María de la Asunción would be built over him. The documents indicated that this tomb was nearly directly under the main altar of the church. After Rodríguez Juárez showed the documents to elders at the parish church, the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) was contacted, which sent archeologist Eulalia Guzmán to investigate the authenticity of the documents. After examining the documents, investigating the oral traditions of the area and other archeological and historical evidence, it was decided to excavate in the place where the documents indicated.
From February to September 1949, other investigations corroborated the story related by the documents. The main altar of the church was dismantled and taken away and began to excavate below it. They dug about 1.5 meters down, found a rock layer, which covered a multitude of burials which dated from the early colonial period. Another meter or so down, they found a layer of stucco and adobe bricks, then a layer of large rocks with spaces between them filled in by smaller ones, called a Momeztli. Underneath this was a cavity with an east-west orientation were the remains of several bodies dating from the 16th century. Underneath these was another cavity covered in an oval copper plate with the inscription Rey e S. Coatemo. (“rey” means king in Spanish and Coatemo as an alternative spelling for Cuauhtémoc) Underneath this were other bones, a spear-point, other pieces of metal and remnants of objects long ago rusted. The discovery of Cuauhtemoc’s tomb was announced on 26 September 1949.
The authenticity of the find was challenged, so the INAH sent other teams to investigate the find. Results of the corroborative efforts were mixed with researchers casting doubt on the age of the bones found, the documents that led to their discovery and the authenticity of the artifacts found at the site. In 1976, a Judging Commission determined:
First. That the skeletal remains belong to eight individuals and come from different epochs and different forms of burial. Second. That the young adult mestizo whose remains face and teeth are part of Ichcateopan finding could not have been buried in 1529 [the year of the death of Cuauhtemoc] (…) Fourth. That oral tradition does not start until the 16th century and in its current form is known only since 1949. Fifth. That all documents-both those that gave rise to the finding as presented later-are apocryphal and were developed after 1917 (…) There is no scientific basis for claiming that the remains found on September 26, 1949 in the church of St. Mary of the Assumption, Ichacateopan, Guerrero, are the remains of Cuauhtemoc, the last lord of the Mexica and heroic defender of Mexico-Tenochtitlan
Informe de la Comisión de 1976
Recent investigations determined that the remains are judged not to be of Cuauhtémoc, but instead corresponding to eight different bodies and the skull is female. Early research reports by Eulalia Guzmán, distorted the facts. Today the burial is considered a forgery by archeologists, although many locals and cultural activists still consider it to be genuine.
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