Conservation of sawfish rostra in the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan


Throughout the explorations of the Templo Mayor Project, numerous offerings have been surveyed, most of them standing out for the large number of animal remains recovered including a great deal of sawfish, characterized by an anterior long and flat snout that has teeth on both sides. Their skeleton and snouts are chemically composed by hydroxyapatite and collagen in different crystalline arrangements. This causes the stabilization and conservation processes to be a challenge for the archaeological conservators. After almost five hundred years of burial, the object´s chemical structure and mechanical properties have been severely altered and the material has become highly fragile. Given the valuable information these findings shed to light, their preservation is necessary. For almost forty years, the conservators at Templo Mayor have applied different restoration treatments in order to preserve these rostra. Nowadays, the interdisciplinary work between conservators, archaeologists and biologists has resulted in a better understanding of the role of this fish in pre-Hispanic world, as well as of their alteration and deterioration processes and the evaluation of the methods and materials used for their preservation. In this paper we discuss the different methods used to preserve these materials as well as their benefits and disadvantages.

Cite this Record

Conservation of sawfish rostra in the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. Adriana Sanroman, Maria Barajas, Valeria Hernandez, Erika Robles. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429836)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14489