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The temple that was hidden beneath a parking lot. The platform that was hidden beneath a parking lot.

‘Archaeological window’ offers glimpse of ancient temple

Window on to temple dedicated to god of wind now open in Tlatelolco

During the demolition of an old supermarket in the Mexico City neighborhood of Tlatelolco four years ago, an ancient pre-Hispanic temple dedicated to the Aztec god of wind was found beneath the site’s parking lot.

Now the temple can be seen and appreciated through a 361-square-meter “archaeological window” built by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and opened to the public yesterday.

The temple’s structure consists of a circular platform that is located three meters below street level, measures 11 meters in diameter, is 1.2 meters high and has graves for 20 children, adults and animals. A range of artefacts was also found at the temple, which is believed to be more than 650 years old.

“It’s a temple [dedicated] to the god of wind [Ehecátl-Quetzalcóatl], who had a close relationship with the god of water Tláloc because this god was the one who swept and prepared everything so that the rains brought by Tláloc would come,” prominent Mexican archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma told the news agency EFE.

He explained that three temples dedicated to Ehecátl-Quetzalcóatl have now been found in Tlatelolco as well as another three in ancient Tenochtitlan, the precursor to modern-day Mexico City.

One of the platforms that are more than 650 years old.
The platform that is more than 650 years old.

The temples generally face towards the east, Matos explained, because according to Aztec myths Ehecátl-Quetzalcóatl and Xipe-Tótec — a god of spring and new vegetation —  believed that the fifth sun would rise in the east.

The archeological window is part of the Tlatelolco Project, which started two decades ago with the objective of saving archeological sites from threats posed by public and private construction projects in the area.

A total of 30 archaeologists participated in the restoration of the temple and found more than 43,000 objects made out of ceramics, shells, bones and other materials, of which 1,000 were intact and have been set aside for study.

Tlatelolco, located just north of the historic center of Mexico City, is well known for its archeological site of the same name and the adjacent Plaza de las Tres Culturas, or Three Cultures Square, where a massacre of protesting students carried out by the military and police occurred in 1968.

Source: EFE (sp)

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