Recovering Mexico’s Histories in Tamaulipas. Arqueological activities of Mexico’s INAH have recovered pieces of the history of Tampico and Villa San Nicolás in Tamaulipas.
A substantive task of the INAH is scientific research, carried out by more than 400 academics assigned to the disciplines of history, social anthropology, physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, ethnohistory, ethnology, architecture, heritage conservation, conservation and restoration. The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) has under its protection a total of 193 archaeological zones and one paleontological zone open to the public throughout the country, 365 days a year.
Elements of daily life, such as beer bottles and ceramic remains, were recently found in the Casa Fernández in Tampico. Institute staff also found ceramic material from the 19th and 20th centuries, associated with the mining era of the old Villa de San Nicolás, according to a recent press release by the Secretaria de Cultura of Mexico.
Tamaulipas is a state with a high presence of heritage vestiges that date back to the time of the arrival of the Spanish in that region, as well as to the 18th century. Experts from the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico, through the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), have revealed contexts of historical archeology that help to reconstruct the future of this entity.
The researcher of the INAH Tamaulipas Center, Seidy Guadalupe Velázquez León, reported that the archaeological supervision carried out in the Tampico City Museum, between last September and October, led to the discovery of the probable existence of a garbage dump that, over time, preserved elements that today are considered of historical value, such as fragments of elegant tableware: teapots, tureens, platters or trays, jugs, plates and cups made of porcelain and fine English earthenware, evidence of the high status of the former owners of the property that today occupies the museum premises.
The archaeological supervision works in that place, characterized by its Beauxartian architecture and known by the locals as Casa Fernández, a name it takes from the businessman Luciano Fernández Gómez who commissioned its construction and inhabited it from 1926, were concentrated in an area of 43 meters by 22 meters, approximately, which corresponded to an old courtyard of the residence; a space that was readjusted to expand the facilities and services of the property.
In addition to these fragments of vessels, some complete pieces were found, including 30 bottles of beer, a product that, given the high temperatures that Tampico registers in the summer, has been widely consumed for approximately a century.
“Of that total number of bottles, 10 are ginger beer, a typically English drink, which links us to the time of the Tampico oil boom, when at the beginning of the 20th century numerous British investors arrived in Mexico to be part of this industry, which implied the importation of many of their food and drink habits.”
The remaining 20 bottles, adds the archaeologist, keep the inscriptions that denote their production at the Vidriera Monterrey and at the Cuauhtémoc Brewery in Monterrey, Nuevo León.
Another relevant finding was a bottle of some product from the American Apothecary ‘Dr. Adolfo Autrey,’ which opened its doors in Tampico around 1892.
It is proposed that the bottles and pots be integrated into the collections of the Museum of the City of Tampico itself.
Potsherds in the old Villa de San Nicolás
Another archaeological supervision that the INAH conducted in Tamaulipas was the one carried out between April and May 2022, prior to a series of paving works carried out on Nicolás Bravo and Narciso Mendoza streets.
Both roads are located in the historic center of San Nicolás, a town founded at the beginning of the 18th century as a Real de Minas; however, given the poor quality of the silver veins and the complicated water harvesting in the region, it entered a state of partial abandonment from which it recovered until well into the 20th century.
In this project, the INAH recovered more than 50 sherds of ceramic, majolica, fine white earthenware, porcelain and glazed earthenware, and a horse spur.
Although no traces of historic cobblestones were found during the paving works, the installation of a flagstone construction system was agreed with the town hall, in keeping with the image of the surrounding heritage monuments.
The ceramic elements of San Nicolás are protected in the laboratories of the INAH Tamaulipas Center, in Ciudad Victoria, and will serve to feed a catalog of representative historical-industrial materials of each municipality of the entity.
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