February 21, 2017:    The remodeling of an Adventist church in the center of the city of Colima in western Mexico has led to a chance archaeological discovery.

Untouched tombs dating back 1,700 years were found with relics referencing the underworld.

The first tomb found beneath the church contained the remains of 12 male adults. It also featured relics described as Pre-Columbian figurines and statues by the online publication Live Science on February 10.

The tomb dated back to the Comala Period which lasted from 0 to 500 to A.D.

This first tomb’s discovery led to further digging which unearthed three burial levels. On the second level, archaeologists found a male and a female figurine. They were made from paste, placed face down next to two skulls.

Featuring a pointy nose and a triangular head, the female figurine sported a banded headdress. Her hands were crossed and she held a pot in her right hand.

The male figurine wore an intricate headdress with a horn protruding from it. The figurine also held an ax.

The Live Science article quoted Rafael Platas Ruíz, an archaeologist at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico, as saying that the male sculpture depicted a shaman and that the contents of the tomb satisfied the time period’s belief in the requirements of the underworld.

Experts say the discovery may lead to more finds in the area which was continually inhabited from 1500 B.C. to 1500 A.D.

The discovery was especially rare because tombs of this nature typically suffer from looting before trained specialists can analyze their contents.

Image depicts flag of the state of Colima.

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