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Aztec Temple Unearthed In The Heart Of Mexico City

First Posted: Jun 14, 2017 06:35 AM EDT
Figures On Quetzalcoatl Temple
Detail of figures on the Temple of Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, Mexico, c. 1980. (Image for representation only.)
(Photo : Harvey Meston/Getty Images)

In downtown Mexico City, on a nondescript side street behind a colonial-era Roman Catholic cathedral and a 1950s-era hotel, the remains of a major Aztec temple was found. This site is near the major Aztec ruin, Templo Mayor.

The excavations for the newly unearthed temple actually started in 2009, when a section of what was the foundation of a temple dedicated to the Aztec wind god Ehecatl was revealed. Along with the massive site, The New York Times also noted that archaeologists found 32 severed male neck vertebrae in a pile just off a ritual ball court. These may have been sacrifices to the Aztec god.

Some of the original white stucco remains from the original temple were also found. This set the building during the 1486-1502 reign of Aztec emperor Ahuizotl, who was the predecessor of Moctezuma, who was brought down by conquistador Hernan Cortez during the Spanish conquest in Mexico. The building stood out for its round shape -- an anomaly among the square temples that dominated the Aztec's most sacred ceremonial spaces.

According to The Guardian, Aztec archaeologist Eduardo Matos said that the top of the temple may have likely been built to resemble a coiled snake. Priests entering through a doorway were made to look like the nose of a serpent.

Once excavations are done, a museum will be built on-site, which will give it a more modern look like the other buildings in the capital. This is hardly surprising as Mexico City, including many of its colonial-era structures, was built above the ruins of the Aztec capital. More and more discoveries are likely to be revealed over the years. This is something that archaeologists are looking forward to, and expecting.

"We've been working this area for nearly 40 years, and there's always construction of some kind, and so we take advantage of that and get involved," Matos said.

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