Most Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations built pyramid-shaped structures.
These were usually step pyramids, with temples on top more akin to the ziggurats of Mesopotamia than the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt. Mesoamerican Pyramids served many functions from - from astronomical observatories to places of ritual worship and sacrifice, and perhaps something linked to extraterrestrials.
The Maya are a people of southern Mexico and northern Central America (Guatemala, Belize, western Honduras, and El Salvador) with some 3,000 years of history. Archaeological evidence shows the Maya started to build ceremonial architecture approximately 3,000 years ago. The earliest monuments consisted of simple burial mounds, the precursors to the spectacular stepped pyramids from the Terminal Pre-classic period and beyond. These pyramids relied on intricate carved stone in order to create a stair-stepped design. Many of these structures featured a top platform upon which a smaller dedicatory building was constructed, associated with a particular Maya deity. Maya pyramid-like structures were also erected to serve as a place of interment for powerful rulers. Maya pyramid structures occur in a great variety of forms and functions, bounded by regional and period differences. The complexity of their celestial alignments, structure and design baffle archaeologists to this day.
Mexican pyramid has two more inside, scientists discover The Guardian - November 17, 2016
Experts have discovered a third structure within the Kukulkan pyramid in eastern Mexico, revealing that it was built like a Russian nesting doll. A 10-metre-tall pyramid was found within another 20-metre structure, which itself is enveloped by the 30-metre exterior visible at the Maya archeological complex known as Chichen Itza in Yucatan state. The smallest pyramid was built between the years 550 and 800, engineers and anthropologists said. The middle structure had already been discovered in the 1930s and dates back to the years 800-1000, while the largest one was finished between 1050 and 1300.
'Sacred sinkhole' discovered under 1,000-year-old Mayan temple... and it may eventually destroy the pyramid Daily Mail - August 17, 2015
It is a towering testament to a long dead civilization and has fascinated archaeologists for more than 150 years, but one of the most famous Mayan pyramids has been hiding a secret beneath its mighty steps. Researchers have discovered an enormous sinkhole beneath the 1,000-year-old Temple of Kukulkan, also known as El Castillo, which dominates the Mayan city of Chichen Itza in the northern Yucatan Peninusula of Mexico. And they fear the underground cavern, or cenote, which has a river running through it, may eventually cause the entire pyramid to collapse if its roof gives way. Pyramids of Mesoamerica
One of the most famous pyramid sites can be found at Chichen Itza, its name meaning "At the mouth of the well of the Itza (people)". Although this was the name for the site in pre-Columbian times, it is also referred to in the ancient chronicles as Uucyabnal, meaning "Seven Great Rulers". It is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Yucatan state, present-day Mexico. Chichen Itza contains many fine stone buildings in various states of preservation; the buildings were formerly used as temples, palaces, stages, markets, baths, and ball courts.
Dominating the center of Chichen is the Temple of Kukulkan (the Maya name for Quetzalcoatl), often referred to as "El Castillo" (the castle). This step pyramid has a ground plan of square terraces with stairways up each of the four sides to the temple on top.
On the Spring and Autumn equinox, at the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the structure casts a shadow in the shape of a plumed serpent - Kukulcan, or Quetzalcoatl - along the west side of the north staircase. On these two annual occasions, the shadows from the corner tiers slither down the northern side of the pyramid with the sun's movement to the serpent's head at the base.
Mesoamerican cultures periodically built larger pyramids atop older ones, and this is one such example. In the mid 1930s, the Mexican government sponsored an excavation of El Castillo. After several false starts, they discovered a staircase under the north side of the pyramid.
By digging from the top, they found another temple buried below the current one. Inside the temple chamber was a Chac Mool - a human figure in a position of reclining with the head up and turned to one side, holding a tray over the stomach.
A Mayan glyph shows Kukulkan/Quetzalcoatl the
plumed serpent with a gigantic Quetzal bird behind him.
The Quetzal has represented the Spirit of the Maya for thousands of years. Spirits, in many traditions, speak in echoes, lacking a body, just pure frequency and sound. Handclaps evoke chirped echoes from the staircases of the Pyramid of Kukulkan. The physics of the chirped echo can be explained quite simply as periodic reflections from stepfaces. The chirped-echo sounds much like the primary call of the Mayan sacred bird, the resplendent Quetzal. The sounds perhaps trigger something with the subconscious of the person listening as harmonics are linked to creation. Throughout the world, ancient cathedrals and monuments have been acoustically designed to align with the sacred geometry of human consciousness, igniting when accessed. Could the Maya have intentionally coded the sound of their sacred bird into the pyramid architecture?
The dimensions of the steps are the key to the effect. Each step is tall, but the tread, where the foot is placed, doesn't cut deeply into the pyramid. If the stairs were deeper and not so high, the effect on the echoes would not be as great, and they wouldn't sound like a chirp.
In the millennium since this pyramid was built, though the plaster has eroded from the limestone staircases, the sound is still recognizable. Today the Quetzal still plays an important role in modern Mayan culture. The Quetzal is the unit of currency in Guatemala. The Guatemalan government issues a prestigious award named "The Order of the Quetzal."
Dust devil whips up Chichen Itza a day after 2019 Spring Equinox - Video
To the east of El Castillo are a series of buildings, the northernmost is the Temple of the Tables. Its name comes from a series of altars at the top of the structure that are supported by small carved figures of men with upraised arms, called Atlantes.
Archaeologists have identified several courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame in Chichén, but the Great Ball Court about 150 metres (490 ft) to the north-west of the Castillo is by far the most impressive. It is the largest ball court in ancient Mesoamerica. It measures 166 by 68 metres (540 ft x 220 ft). The imposing walls are 12 metres (39 ft) high, and in the center, high up on each of the long walls, are rings carved with intertwining serpents.
At the base of the high interior walls are slanted benches with sculpted panels of teams of ball players. In one panel, one of the players has been decapitated and from the wound emits seven streams of blood; six become wriggling serpents and the center becomes a winding plant.
At one end of the Great Ball Court is the North Temple, popularly called the Temple of the Bearded Man. This small masonry building has detailed bas relief carving on the inner walls, including a center figure that has carving under his chin that resembles facial hair. At the south end is another, much bigger temple, but in ruins.
Built into the east wall are the Temple of the Jaguar. The Upper Temple of the Jaguar overlooks the ball court and has an entrance guarded by two, large columns carved in the familiar feathered serpent motif. Inside there is a large mural, much destroyed, which depicts a battle scene.
The Temple of the Jaguar features a jaguar throne with red paint and jade spots. Behind this platform is a walled inscription which depicts a relief of Tzompantli - a low, flat platform surrounded with carved depictions of human skulls. A doorway at the base of the north stairway leads to a tunnel, from which one can climb the steps of the earlier version of El Castillo inside the current one, up to the room on the top where you can see King Kukulcan's Jaguar Throne, carved of stone and painted red with spots made of inlaid jade.
In the entrance to the Lower Temple of the Jaguar, which opens behind the ball court, is another Jaguar throne, similar to the one in the inner temple of El Castillo, except that it is well worn and missing paint or other decoration. The outer columns and the walls inside the temple are covered with elaborate bas-relief carvings.
The 'Temple of the Warriors' and its adjacent 'Temple of the Jaguar' are very impressive ruins of the complex. A massive temple structure, surrounded by hundreds of columns is carved with reliefs. The columns continue on into the jungle, that part of the temple still has not been restored.
The Temple of the Warriors complex consists of a large stepped pyramid fronted and flanked by rows of carved columns depicting warriors. This complex is analogous to Temple B at the Toltec capital of Tula, and indicates some form of cultural contact between the two regions. The one at Chichen Itza, however, was constructed on a larger scale.
At the top of the stairway on the pyramid's summit (and leading towards the entrance of the pyramid's temple) is a Chac Mool. This temple encases or entombs a former structure called The Temple of the Chac Mool.
Along the south wall of the Temple of Warriors are a series of what are today exposed columns, although when the city was inhabited these would have supported an extensive roof system. The columns are in three distinct sections: an east group, that extends the lines of the front of the Temple of Warriors; a north group, which runs along the south wall of the Temple of Warriors and contains pillars with carvings of soldiers in bas-relief; and a northeast group, which was apparently formed a small temple at the southeast corner of the Temple of Warriors, which contains a rectangular decorated with carvings of people or gods, as well as animals and serpents. The northeast column temple also covers a small marvel of engineering, a channel that funnels all the rainwater from the complex some 40 metres (130 ft) away to a rejollada, a former cenote.
To the north of Las Monjas is a cockeyed, round building on a large square platform. It's nicknamed El Caracol ("the snail") because of the stone spiral staircase inside. The structure with its unusual placement on the platform and its round shape (the others are rectangular, in keeping with Maya practice), is theorized to have been a proto-observatory with doors and windows aligned to astronomical events, specifically around the path of Venus as it traverses the heavens.
Archaeologists discover 1,000-year-old 'untouched' Maya ritual site containing hundreds of ceramic vessels, burnt offerings, and fragments of bone in Mexican cave Daily Mail - March 5, 2019
Lost Cave of 'Jaguar God' Rediscovered Below Mayan Ruins - and It's Full of Treasure Live Science - March 5, 2019
Shimmying through a maze of dark tunnels below the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, archaeologists have rediscovered a long-sealed cave brimming with lost treasure. According to an statement from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the cave is stockpiled with more than 150 artifacts, including incense burners, vases, and decorative plates adorned with the faces of ancient gods and other religious icons. The trove is believed to be just one of seven sacred chambers in a network of tunnels known as Balamku - "Jaguar God" - that sits below Chichen Itza, a city that accommodated millions of people at its peak during the 13th century. The artifacts have likely been untouched by human hands for more than 1,000 years, according to the INAH. Though the treasures were probably deliberately sealed off, the ritual cave, rediscovered in 2018 by archaeologists hunting for a sacred well below the city, has had at least one human visitor in the past millennium, National Geographic reported. The cave was initially discovered in 1966 by archaeologist Víctor Segovia Pinto, who wrote a report about the find, but never excavated before directing local farmers to seal the cavern's entrance for reasons that are still unknown. Segovia's records of the discovery went missing, leaving behind a mystery that would take five decades to solve.
Teotihuacan was, at its height in the first half of the 1st millennium BCE, the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas. The city during its existence was larger than any European city of the same era, possibly including Rome. The civilization and cultural complex associated with the site is also referred to as Teotihuacan. Its influence spread throughout Mesoamerica; evidence of Teotihuacano presence, if not outright political and economic control, can be seen at numerous sites in Veracruz and the Maya region. The city was located in what is now the San Juan Teotihuacan municipality in the State of Mexico, Mexico, approximately 40 km (24.8 mi) northeast of Mexico City. It covers a total surface area of 83 kms and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The early history of Teotihuacan is quite mysterious, and the origin of its founders is debated. For many years, archaeologists believed it was built by the Toltec. This belief was based on colonial period texts such as the Florentine Codex which attributed the site to the Toltecs. However, the Nahuatl word "Toltec" generally means "craftsman of the highest level" and may not always refer to the archaeological Toltec civilization centered at Tula, Hidalgo. Since Toltec civilization flourished centuries after Teotihuacan, they cannot be understood as the city's founders.
In the Late Formative period, a number of urban centers arose in central Mexico. The most prominent of these appears to have been Cuicuilco, on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco. Scholars have speculated that the eruption of the Xitle volcano may have prompted a mass emigration out of the central valley and into the Teotihuacan valley. These settlers may have founded and/or accelerated the growth of Teotihuacan.
Other scholars have put forth the Totonac people as the founders of Teotihuacan, and the debate continues to this day. There is evidence that at least some of the people living in Teotihuacan came from areas influenced by the Tiwanaku Civilization, including the Zapotec, Mixtec and Maya peoples.
The earliest buildings at Teotihuacan date to about 200 BCE. The Pyramid of the Sun, was completed by 100 BCE. It is the largest building in Teotihuacan and one of the largest in Mesoamerica. Found along the Avenue of the Dead, in between the Pyramid of the Moon and the Ciudadela, and in the shadow of the massive mountain Cerro Gordo, the pyramid is part of a large complex in the heart of the city.
The name "Pyramid of the Sun" comes from the Aztecs, who visited the city of Teotihuacan centuries after it was abandoned; the name given to the pyramid by the Teotihuacanos. It was constructed in two phases. The first construction stage, around 100 A.D., brought the pyramid to nearly the size it is today.
The second round of construction resulted in its completed size of 738 feet (225 meters) across and 246 feet (75 meters) high, making it the third largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Cholula and The Great Pyramid.
The second phase also saw the construction of an altar atop of the pyramid, which has not survived into modern times. The Adosada platform was added to the pyramid in the early third century, at around the same time that the Ciudadela and Temple of the Feathered Serpent, (see below) Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent were constructed.
Over the structure the ancient Teotihuacanos finished their pyramid with lime plaster imported from surrounding areas, on which they painted brilliantly colored murals. While the pyramid has endured for centuries, the paint and plaster have not and are no longer visible. Few images are thought to have been included in the mural decorations on the sides of the pyramid. Jaguar heads and paws, stars, and snake rattles are among the few images associated with the pyramids.
It is thought that the pyramid venerated a deity within Teotihuacan society but the destruction of the temple on top of the pyramid, by both deliberate and natural forces prior to the archaeological study of the site, has so far prevented identification of the pyramid with any particular deity. Some scholars have suggested that the deity of the pyramid was the Great Goddess, one of two major Teotihuacan deities and one of the few goddesses in ancient Mesoamerica. However, little evidence exists to support this theory.
The first major archaeological excavation of the site was done by Leopoldo Batres in 1906. Batres supervised restoration of the Pyramid for the 1910 centennial of Mexican independence. Some aspects of Batres' reconstruction of the pyramid have been questioned by later archaeologists. Subsequent excavations of Teotihuacan have continued to the present. In 1925 Pedro Dosal discovered skeletons at the 4 corners of the foundations of the temple, which he interpreted as human sacrifices at the dedication of the temple.
Structure location and orientation
The orientation of the structure may hold some anthropological significance. The pyramid is oriented slightly northwest of the horizon point of the setting sun on two days a year, August 12 and April 29, which are about one divinatory calendar year apart for the Teotihuacanos. The day of August 12 is significant because it would have marked the date of the beginning of the present era and the initial day of the Maya long count calendar. In addition, many important astrological events can be viewed from the location of the pyramid that are important in terms of both agriculture and belief systems of the ancient society.
The pyramid was built over a man-made tunnel leading to a "cave" located six meters down beneath the center of the structure. Originally this was believed to be a naturally formed lava tube cave and interpreted as possibly the place of Chicomoztoc, the place of human origin according to Nahua legends. More recent excavations have suggested that the space is man-made instead, and could have served as a royal tomb. In 2008 scientists used muon detectors to try to find other chambers within the interior of the pyramid, but substantial looting has prevented the discovery of a function for the chambers in Teotihuacan society.
Only a few caches of artifacts have been found in and around the pyramid. Obsidian arrowheads and human figurines have been discovered inside the pyramid and similar objects have been found at the nearby Pyramid of the Moon and Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent in the Ciudadela. These objects may have represented sacrificial victims. In addition, burial sites of children have been found in excavations at the corners of the pyramid. It is believed that these burials were part of a sacrificial ritual dedicating the building of the pyramid.
Original offering found at Teotihuacan pyramid PhysOrg - December 14, 2011
Archaeologists announced Tuesday that they dug to the very core of Mexico's tallest pyramid and found what may be the original ceremonial offering placed on the site of the Pyramid of the Sun before construction began. The offerings found at the base of the pyramid in the Teotihuacan ruin site just north of Mexico City include a green serpentine stone mask so delicately carved and detailed that archaeologists believe it may have been a portrait. The find also includes 11 ceremonial clay pots dedicated to a rain god similar to Tlaloc, who was still worshipped in the area 1,500 years later, according to a statement by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH.
Story 2: Ancient Offering Discovered Beneath Pyramid of the Sun Live Science - December 15, 2011
Archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered a small treasure trove of items that may have been placed as offerings to mark the start of construction on the Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Sun almost 2,000 years ago. The offerings include pieces of obsidian and pottery as well as animal remains. Perhaps most striking are three human figurines made out of a green stone, one of which is a serpentine mask that researchers think may have been a portrait.
17 Images of the Excavation Site
The location of the excavation site between the Feathered Serpent Temple and the platform in front of it (Structure IC).
Vertical shaft in front of the Feathered Serpent Temple.
The Pyramid of the Moon is the second largest building in Teotihuacan after the Pyramid of the Sun. The Pyramid of the Moon is located in the northern part of Teotihuacan and it mimics the contours of Cerro Gordo. Some have called it Tenan which in Nahuatl means "mother or protective stone." The Pyramid of the Moon covers a structure older than the Pyramid of the Sun which existed prior to 200 A. D.
The Pyramid's construction between 200 and 450 A.D. completed the bilateral symmetry of the temple complex. A slope in front of the staircase gives access to the Avenue of the Dead, a platform atop the pyramid was used to conduct ceremonies in honor of Chalchiuhtlicue, the goddess of water and of the moon. This platform and the sculpture found at the pyramid's bottom are thus dedicated to Chalchiuhtlicue.
Opposite Chalchiuhtlicue's altar is the Plaza of the Moon. The Plaza contains a central altar and an original construction with internal divisions, consisting of four rectangular and diagonal bodies that formed what is known as the "Teotihuacan Cross."
Between 100 and 500 A.D, an ancient people built a flourishing metropolis called Teotihuacan on a plateau about 25 miles (40 km) from present-day Mexico City. With its accurately aligned avenues and a huge plaza surrounded by 15 monumental pyramids. It was said by the Aztecs to have been surmounted by a huge stone figure related to the moon but this figure was uncovered (weighing 22 tonnes and was somehow lifted to the top of the pyramid) and it is thought more likely that it represents a water deity.
Recently, archaeologists have excavated beneath the Pyramid of the Moon. The archaeologists are looking for clues to the history of this mysterious culture. Tunnels dug into the structure have revealed that the Teotihuacan's citizens did not remain pleased with their architectural feats for very long.
Over a period of several hundred years, the pyramid underwent at least six facelifts and each new addition was larger and covered the previous structure. As the archeologists burrowed through the layers of the pyramid, they discovered artifacts that provide the beginning of a timeline to the history of Teotihuacan. The latest find, made by a team led by Saburo Sugiyama, associate professor at Aichi Prefectural University in Japan and adjunct faculty at Arizona State University, and Ruben Cabrera of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, is a tomb apparently made to dedicate the fifth phase of construction. It contains four human skeletons, animal bones, jewelry, obsidian blades, and a wide variety of other offerings. Archeologists estimated that the burial occurred between 100 and 200 A.D.
Another tomb dedicated to Chalchiuhtlicue was discovered in 2007. It is dated to the fourth stage of construction. It contained a single human male sacrificial victim as well as a wolf, jaguar, puma, serpent, bird skeletons, and more than 400 other relics which include a large greenstone and obsidian figurines, ceremonial knives, and spear points.
The Temple of the Feathered Serpent of Teotihuacan is an important religious and political center of the city. The Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent has revealed a great deal about religious ceremonies, burials, and politics in ancient Mesoamerica for the site of Teotihuacan. The structure contains some of the earliest-known representations of the Mesoamerican "plumed serpent" deity figure, most generally known by the term Quetzalcoatl, from the Nahuatl language of the much-later Aztec peoples.
The Feathered Serpent Pyramid is located at the Pre-Columbian site of Teotihuacan, which was at one time the largest city in the western hemisphere. The Feathered Serpent Pyramid is located in the Ciudadela at the South end of the Avenue of the Dead, a long avenue which is surrounded by platforms displaying the talud-tablero architectural style.
The Ciudadela is a Spanish term first used when the Spanish conquistadors arrived at Teotihuacan. It is a structure with high walls and a large courtyard that surrounds the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent. The Ciudadela's courtyard is massive enough that it could house the entire adult population of Teotihuacan within its walls, which was estimated to be one hundred to two hundred thousand people during its peak. Within the Ciudadela there are several monumental structures, including the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, two mansions on the North and South side of the pyramid and the Adosada platform. The Adosada platform is located on the front, West side of the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, blocking its front view.
The Feathered Serpent Pyramid is built in the talud-tablero style, with several platforms forming the pyramid. In between every platform there is a wall where a feathered serpent's head sticks outward. Its body wraps around the entire pyramid. Along with the feathered serpent there is also another figure that some believe is a representation of a crocodile or a representation of the deity Tlaloc. These figures alternate around the pyramid. In the eyes of these figures there is a spot for obsidian glass to be put in, so when the light hits, its eyes would glimmer. In between the heads a row of three shells can be found, showing that the people of Teotihuacan were trading with people along the Mexican coast. In antiquity the entire pyramid was painted. Today it is hidden by the adosada platform built in the 4th century hinting at political restructurisation of Teotihuacan during that time.
Burials at the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent
The people of Teotihuacan believed in ritual sacrifice to satisfy the gods. Multiple burials were found at the pyramid, and it is believed that they were sacrificed as part of the dedication of the temple. The numbers of the burials are 4, 8, 9, 13, 18, and 20; these numbers represent significant ideology in Mesoamerica. There are four directions in the world, nine layers of their underworld, thirteen layers of heaven and earth, and a ritual calendar of thirteen months of twenty days or two hundred and sixty day calendar, and a solar calendar of eighteen months of twenty days.
Relation to the Calendar
As stated above there was a correlation between the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent and a calendar for the people of Teotihuacan. The pyramid also is thought to contain two hundred and sixty feathered serpent heads between the platforms. Each of these feathered serpents also contains an open area in its mouth. This open area is big enough to put a place holder in. Thus, it is believed that the people of Teotihuacan would move this place marker around the pyramid to represent the ritual calendar. When a spiritual day would arrive the people would gather within the walls of the Ciudadela and celebrate the ritual.
The Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent was not only a religious center but also a political center as well. The rulers of Teotihuacan were not only the leaders of men; they were also the spiritual leaders of the city. The two mansions near the pyramid are thought to have been occupied by powerful families. An interesting feature of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid is that there are examples of a shift in power or ideology in Teotihuacan and for the Pyramid itself. The construction of the Adosada platform came much later than the Feathered Serpent Pyramid. The Adosada platform is built directly in front of the pyramid and blocks its front view. Thus, it is thought that the political leaders lost favor or that the ideology of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid lost virtue and was covered up by the Adosada.
Archaeologists Find Tunnel Below the Temple of the Feathered Serpent at Teotihuacan Art Daily.org - August 3, 2010
After eight months of excavation, archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have located, 12 meters below , the entrance to the tunnel leading to a series of galleries beneath the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, Quetzalcoatl in the Archaeological Area of Teotihuacan, where the remains of rulers of the ancient city could have been deposited.
In a tour made by to site today with the media, archaeologist Sergio Chavez Gomez, director of the Tlalocan Project went below the ground and announced the advances in the systematic exploration undertaken by the INAH of the underground conduit, which was closed for about 1,800 years by the inhabitants of Teotihuacan themselves and where no one has gone in since then.
INAH specialists hope to enter the tunnel in a couple of months and will be the first to enter after hundreds of years since it was closed. This excavation, which represents the most profound that has been done in the pre-Hispanic site, is part of the commemorations for the first 100 years of uninterrupted archaeological explorations (made in 1910) also called the City of Gods. Gomez Chavez explained that the tunnel passes under the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, the most important building of the Citadel, "and the entry was located a few meters from the pyramid.
Access is by a vertical shaft of about five meters per side down to a depth of 14 meters from the surface, the entrance leads into a long corridor with an estimated length of 100 meters which ends in a series of underground chambers excavated in the rock. The tunnel was discovered in late 2003 by Sergio Gomez and Julie Gazzola, but its exploration has required several years of planning and managing the financial resources necessary to carry out research at the highest scientific level. The team is composed of more than 30 people and has advisors renowned nationally and internationally.
Before starting the excavations, the archaeologists from INAH had the collaboration of Dr. Victor Manuel Velasco, from the Institute of Geophysics of the UNAM, through a the use of a GPR it was determined that the tunnel has a length of about 100 meters, and has large chambers inside. Another of the technologies used in the exploration has been the laser scanner, a sophisticated device with high resolution, facilitated by the National Coordination of Historical Monuments (CNMH). INAH made the three-dimensional record of the archaeological finds.
Just a couple of weeks ago, archaeologists corroborated that the tunnel entrance was located in the place they had anticipated, then opened a small hollow hole at the top of the access, and using the scanner took the first images from inside the tunnel to a length of 37 meters, of the 100 it is estimated to have in length.
"Although we need to excavate two more meters to reach the floor of the tunnel, having the first images of the inside will allow us to better plan how to enter. Even so, we will have to withdraw a large amount of soil and a heavy block of stone that blocks the access. The whole process could take two more months of work, as we continue with the same systematic exploration that we have done from the start to avoid losing important information that lets us know what activities the citizens of Teotihuacan performed thousands of years ago and why they decided to close it, "said archaeologist Sergio Gomez. So far, 200 tons of earth have been withdrawn, he said, while doing this we have found about 60,000 pieces of artifacts and pottery.
Angel Mora, who belongs to the Technology Support Unit of the CNMH, and engineer Juan Carlos Garcia, who operates the scanner, said that by introducing the laser, which has a range of 300 meters, through the small hollow opening the archaeologists made, there was only a length of 37 meters. Mora noted that this reading is because the laser beam "runs into something, maybe with some collapsed stones or because the tunnel has a gap."
Gomez reported that it has not yet been precisely determined the time of construction of the tunnel, however it he has a better idea of when it was closed by the people from Teotihuacan. "Several indications suggest that access to the underground passage was closed between 200 and 250 AD, probably after depositing something inside. One of the hypotheses postulate that, within the large chamber detected by the GPR, we could locate the remains of important people in the city."
The investigations have led to know with certainty that this tunnel was made prior to the construction of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent and the Citadel. The tunnel is contemporary with a large architectural structure, which could be a ball game court, according to theform of the ground, said the archaeologist.
Unfortunately when the tunnel was closed, large stones were thrown which blocked access, "and the court was also destroyed and razed by the people of Teotihuacan, only small remnants remain. Locating the entrance to the tunnel fulfills one of the most important objectives of the Project Tlalocan, to precisely confirm that the main entrance was located in the exact spot where the excavation is planned. We must continue the excavation of the vertical shaft until it reaches the floor level to thereby start scanning the tunnel towards the East.
According to the hypothesis about the meaning and symbolism of the tunnel, archaeologist Sergio Gomez, said the tunnel had to be linked to concepts related to the underworld, hence it is possible that in this place were carried out initiation rituals and the divine investiture of Teotihuacan rulers, since the power was acquired in these sacred spaces. Also, it is known that rulers were buried in the holiest places. For a long time local and foreign archaeologists have attempted to locate the graves of the rulers of the ancient city, but the search has been fruitless. That's why every day our expectations are increasing, as there are many chances that they are sitting inside a large tomb or offering. However, it is not something we are obsessed wih, the discovery and systematic exploration of the tunnel is something of great significance for archaeological research and a unique opportunity to approach the cosmogonic and religious thought of ancient Teotihuacan.
Altun Ha is the name given ruins of an ancient Maya city in Belize, located in the Belize District about 30 miles (50 km) north of Belize City and about 6 miles (10 km) west of the shore of the Caribbean Sea."Altun Ha" is a modern name in the Maya language, coined by translating the name of the nearby village of Rockstone Pond. The ancient name is at present unknown.The largest of Altun Ha's temple-pyramids, the "Temple of the Masonry Altars", is 54 feet (16 m) high. A drawing of this structure is the logo of Belize's leading brand of beer, "Belikin".
The site covers an area of about 5 miles (8 km) square. The central square mile of the site has remains of some 500 structures.Archeological investigations show that Altun Ha was occupied by 200 BC. The bulk of construction was from the Maya Classic era, c. 200 to 900 AD, when the site may have had a population of about 10,000 people. About 900 there was some looting of elite tombs of the site, which some think is suggestive of a revolt against the site's rulers.
The site remained populated for about another century after that, but with no new major ceremonial or elite architecture built during that time. After this the population dwindled, with a moderate surge of reoccupation in the 12th century before declining again to a small agricultural village.
The ruins of the ancient structures had their stones reused for residential construction of the agricultural village of Rockstone Pond in modern times, but the ancient site did not come to the attention of archeologists until 1963, when the existence of a sizable ancient site was recognized from the air by pilot and amateur Mayanist Hal Ball.
Starting in 1965 an archeological team lead by Dr. David Pendergast of the Royal Ontario Museum began extensive excavations and restorations of the site, which continued through 1970. One of the most spectacular discoveries is a large (almost 10 pounds or 5 kilograms) piece of jade elaborately carved into an image of the head of the Maya Sun God, Kinich Ahau. This jade head is considered one of the national treasures of Belize. A road connects Altun Ha to Belize's Northern Highway, and the site is accessible for tourism.
Calakmul is the name of both a municipality and a major archeological site in the Mexican state of Campeche, in the central part of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Calakmul (also Kalakmul and other less frequent variants) is also the name given to site of one of the largest ancient Maya cities ever uncovered. It is located in the 1,800,000 acre Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, deep in the jungles of the Peten, 30 km from the Guatemalan border.
First discovered from the air by biologist Cyrus L. Lundell of the Mexican Exploitation Chicle Company on December 29, 1931, the find was reported to Sylvanus G. Morley of the Carnegie Institute at Chichen Itza in March 1932. According to Lundell, who named the site, "In Maya, 'ca' means 'two', 'lak' means 'adjacent', and 'mul' signifies any artificial mound or pyramid, so 'Calakmul' is the 'City of the Two Adjacent Pyramids'."
Calakmul was the major seat of power of the Kaan or "Kingdom of the Snake", which first arose further north but built Calakmul into a Late Classic Era superpower ally of Caracol and rival to Tikal. A series of 11 painted vessels, dubbed Dynastic Vases, describe the ascensions of the Kaan rulers, including ancestral and legendary figures.
Calakmul probably supported a population of over 50,000, and so far more than 6,250 structures have been discovered in an area of up to 70 square kilometers with a substantial northern wall and a series of water management features (Calakmul's reservoirs include the largest in the Maya world) delineating a dense core of 22 square kilometers. Calakmul's 45 meter pyramid "Structure 2" is the largest Classic Era Maya temple platform known. Many of the city's monuments and structures are constructed of chalky local limestone, which has made interpretation of the site difficult.
After a long period of inactivity following Morely's 1932 expedition, the city was explored by William Folan between 1984 and 1994, and is now the subject of a large-scale project of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) under Ramon Carrasco.