The discovery of an unlooted shaft tomb in Southern Zacatecas, Mexico, offered an undisturbed example of this mortuary tradition common in West Mexico during the Formative and Early Classic eras (300 B.C. to A.D. 400). However, 2000 years of taphonomic processes took their toll on the tomb’s contents. This paper reviews archaeological and ethnographic resources for understanding these taphonomic processes and the excavation techniques that preserved as much data as possible. We focus on four skeletons from the tomb: two individuals joined by a shell belt and the two adjacent individuals who held atlatls in their hands.


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