A pre-Hispanic sauna, dating back to the 14th Century, has been uncovered by archaeologists in Mexico City.

The remains of the sweat lodge, built with blocks of adobe and volcanic rock, still had its central part. where the tub or pool for the steam bath was located, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Places like this, known as a temazcal, originated with indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica, and were permanent structures used for medicinal purposes, spiritual rituals and for women to give birth.

The findings in the historic La Merced neighbourhood allowed experts to determine the exact location of Temazcaltitlán, one of the first areas of Tenochtitlán, the ancient metropolis that became modern-day Mexico City.

The excavations also uncovered the well-preserved remains of a house, including walls decorated with red motifs. It is thought a noble indigenous family lived there right after the Spanish conquest in the 16th Century.

“The findings suggest that in the 16th Century this area was more populated than we initially thought,” said Víctor Esperón Calleja, who led the excavation work.

The team also uncovered the remains of a tannery that was probably located there between 1720 and 1820. The site is located next to the Casa Talavera, a building of Baroque style that dates back to either the 16th or early 17th Century and is now a cultural centre.

There are an estimated 200,000 archaeological sites in Mexico – among them, the Mayan ruins and pyramids in the country’s south, the Paquime mud-based constructions in the northern state of Chihuahua and the huge complex of Teotihuacan, north of Mexico City.

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