December 15, 2011
Ceremonial Offering Discovered At Mexico’s Teotihuacan
After exploring Mexico´s Teotihuacan ruins for the past few years, archaeologists say they have unearthed a ceremonial offering at the very core of the Pyramid of the Sun, placed there before construction of Mexico´s tallest pyramid began, some 2,000 years ago.
The announcement was made via a bulletin from Mexico´s National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH), which said the offering consisted of pieces of obsidian, animal remains and three human figurines made of greenish jade-like stone. One of the offerings was a serpentine stone mask so delicately carved and detailed that archaeologists believe it may have been a portrait.
The team of scientists also found 11 ceremonial clay pots dedicated to a rain god similar to Tlaloc, who was still worshipped in the region more than 1,500 years later, according to INAH.
INAH archaeologist Enrique Perez Cortes said the ceremonial site is more than 1,900 years old. He said judging by the depth at which the offering was located, “we know that it was deposited as part of a consecration ritual for the construction of the Pyramid of the Sun.”
Experts followed an old tunnel dug through the pyramid by a 1930s research team that just missed the center of the site. Once deep inside the tunnel, the archaeologists dug small extensions and exploratory shafts off from the main tunnel. Their findings point to the earliest days of the mysterious Teotihuacan culture.
Susan Gillespie, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida who was not involved in the project, called the find “exciting and important, although I would not say it was unexpected” given that dedicatory offerings were commonly placed in MesoAmerican pyramids.
“It is exciting that what looks like the original foundation dedicatory cache for what was to become the largest (in height) pyramid in Mexico (and one of the largest in the world) has finally been found, after much concerted efforts looking for it,” Gillespie told the Associated Press (AP) by email.
The find paints a clearer picture of the continuity of religious practices during the long history of the Teotihuacan people. Some of the same themes found in the ceremonial site are found in ancient murals painted on the city´s walls centuries later, she noted.
George Cowgill, an anthropologist at Arizona State University, who was not involved in the discovery, said the findings may deepen the debate about whether the pyramid was linked to the sun, the underworld, or Tlaloc, who was also considered a war god.
“The discovery of seven humans suggests that they were probably sacrificial victims, along with several species of fierce animals,” Cowgill told AP.
The city was founded 2,500 years ago and was influential in bringing architecture, trade and culture to many areas of ancient Mexico. But the identity of its rulers remain a mystery, and the city was abandoned by the time the Aztecs arrived in the area in the 1300s and gave it the name Teotihuacan, which means “the place where men become gods.”
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