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There are a lot of ancient turquoise mines all over Arizona and New Mexico. At the same time, Central America and Southern Mexico have very few of them. This is why researchers have long theorized that the Mixtec cultures and the Aztec empire must have traded with those in the Southwest for this special blue-green mineral that is so beautiful. According to a new study, which the journal Science Advances recently published, it seems that between 1970s and 1990s, archaeologists analyzed the Aztec turquoise. This chemical analysis finally revealed that the turquoise actually came from the northern mines.
However, for this new study, a team of researchers wanted to take a second look using modern techniques. So, they analyzed the mosaics at the Aztec Temple of Mayor in Mexico City and the Mixteca tiles. So, after removing the edge of the tiles, the team dissolved them in acid and searched for the isotopic ratios. This is how they found that the chemical signature of this turquoise actually matched the geology in Mesoamerica, not the Southwest. According to this, it means that the Aztecs actually got their turquoise supplies locally.
The origin of the Aztec turquoise
According to Alyson Thibodeau, the lead author of this new study, she was very happy when the results of the analysis finally came in. It’s also interesting that archaeologists have not found too many turquoise mines in Mesoamerica. However, this doesn’t mean that they do not exist. Usually, turquoise appears near the surface of copper deposits. This also means that smaller and shallow turquoise deposits could have been mined to extinction. This is why experts have not found any. Also, it’s highly possible that experts have simply missed them So, these samples simply gave experts an idea about where these minerals came from but did not offer the exact location of these mines.
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