<p><strong>Archaeologist Lynneth Lowe and a worker clean the skull of an elite individual found in a tomb atop a three-story-tall pyramid in <a href="http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/map-machine#s=r&amp;c=16.722189376782154, -93.01828309893607&amp;z=11">Chiapa de Corzo (map)</a>, <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/mexico-guide/">Mexico</a>.<br></strong></p><p><strong>The 2,700-year-old site is the <a id="b0n9" title="oldest known pyramid tomb in Mesoamerica" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/05/100518-oldest-pyramid-tomb-zoque-mexico-science/">oldest known pyramid tomb in Mesoamerica</a>, which roughly encompasses modern-day Mexico and Central America, according to archaeologists who announced the discovery today. </strong></p><p>The pyramid is a window into how and when the unique culture called the Zoque emerged from the Olmec, one of the oldest civilizations in the New World, said excavation leader Bruce Bachand.</p><p>The Olmec began fanning out from their Gulf of Mexico homeland around 1200 B.C. The culture influenced many Mesoamerican civilizations to come—although to what extent is a long-standing debate among archaeologists. (See <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/01/070126-mexico-olmec.html">"Ancient City Found in Mexico; Shows Olmec Influence."</a>)</p><p><em>—John Roach</em></p>

Skull Cleaning

Archaeologist Lynneth Lowe and a worker clean the skull of an elite individual found in a tomb atop a three-story-tall pyramid in Chiapa de Corzo (map), Mexico.

The 2,700-year-old site is the oldest known pyramid tomb in Mesoamerica, which roughly encompasses modern-day Mexico and Central America, according to archaeologists who announced the discovery today.

The pyramid is a window into how and when the unique culture called the Zoque emerged from the Olmec, one of the oldest civilizations in the New World, said excavation leader Bruce Bachand.

The Olmec began fanning out from their Gulf of Mexico homeland around 1200 B.C. The culture influenced many Mesoamerican civilizations to come—although to what extent is a long-standing debate among archaeologists. (See "Ancient City Found in Mexico; Shows Olmec Influence.")

—John Roach

Photograph courtesy Bruce R. Bachand

Pictures: Pyramid Tomb With Human Sacrifices Found

Jewel-adorned skeletons of ancient elites and remains of a sacrificial adult and child were found in the 2,700-year-old tomb in Mexico.

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