Excavations at a recently unearthed archaeological site in Mexico City have revealed the presence of a temple, just 100 meters away from the greater Tlatelolco archaeological zone.
The discovery consists of a 1.2-meter-high circular pyramidal base measuring 11 meters in diameter, part of a temple once dedicated to Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl, the Aztec deity associated with the wind.
Erected 650 years ago, the 70% of the structure remains preserved where it lies buried three meters deep. The local volcanic rock tezontle was used in its construction, with a plaster finish.
The remains of the Aztec temple are located on the grounds of what was a supermarket, demolished in 2014 to make way for a commercial center.
Given the archaeological potential of the area, officials from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) maintained close communications with the mall developers so archaeologists could be involved in every step of the demolition and excavation process.
Once the first hints of the rock base were detected, INAH began a controlled excavation using archaeological techniques, explained the director of the Tlatelolco archaeological zone, Edwina Villegas.
The relevance of the discovery in the context of the Mexica-Tlatelolca culture was such that the construction company ceded to INAH the 300-square-meter piece of land where the pyramidal base was found.
In addition to the Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl temple, several vestiges of archaeological interest were unearthed during the excavation, explained Edwina Villegas.
“We found a basket that contained the skeleton of a newborn child, maguey thorns, bird bones, capstans, incense burners and pieces of obsidian and pottery,” she said.
“We weren’t expecting to find this pyramidal structure. Given its magnitude and degree of preservation, it was decided to leave it exposed, giving the community a chance to get a glimpse of our past,” said the national archaeology coordinator of INAH, Francisco Sánchez Nava.
In order to preserve the discovery while having it on display, INAH will protect the area with an “archaeological window.”
“In order to protect the pyramid, a wall will be built around it . . . a ramp and a railing will also be set, allowing the public to see at least half the temple located along Flores Magón avenue,” explained Villegas.
Prominent Mexican archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma said the relevance of the recent discovery resides mostly in the fact that it provides yet another piece of the great puzzle that is the pre-Hispanic city of Tlatelolco.
Matos said it is hard to determine the true extent of what has been called the Tlatelolco Ceremonial Center, currently made up of 67 pyramidal structures, although close to 40 more have been detected under nearby streets.
Just two meters away from the unearthed pyramid base, construction of the shopping enter continues with the excavation of a six-meter-deep parking lot.
Source: Milenio (sp)