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Photo: Héctor Montaño, INAH

Mexico City was built on the ruins of the Aztec metropolis Tenochtitlan, destroyed by the conquistadores during the 16th century. Five centuries later, the remains of the ancient city continue to emerge from the dirt and stone layers of the past.

The Temple of Ehécatl, the Aztec god of the wind, and the corner of the ancient ball court have been uncovered in Mexico City, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

Also emerging from the excavation: the remains of 30 children, some infants, who were apparently sacrificed near the court, according to officials.

The seven-year excavation behind the Metropolitan Cathedral has revealed the “splendor of the pre-Hispanic city of Tenochtitlan,” according to Mexico’s secretary of culture, Maria Cristina Garcia Cepeda.

The wind-god temple, which was a rectangular structure between 34 and 36 meters in length, has circular structures at its back, the larger of which has a diameter of 18 meters. A meter-wide walkway separates the two circles, they added.

Ehécatl is a god which brought benign winds carrying valuable rainfall to crops. The god’s temple is located in front of an altar to Tlaloc, a god of fertility and rainfall in the adjacent Greater Temple, and next to the warrior god Huitzilopochtli.

The ball court platform is nine meters wide, and also alongside the structure dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. The players heading into the ritual ball game would have to pass up the stairs past the warrior god’s dedicated space.

Under those stairs were the remains of the 30 children, some as young as just a few months, they added. Evidence shows they were sacrificed, according to the archaeologists.

Both structures that are newly discovered were in use as of 1481 and likely earlier, and were still in good working order with the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519. They were systematically dismantled after the conquest, they added.

Mexico City’s secrets continue to be revealed, with each peeling of the architectural layers of the past. The Huey Tzompantli, or “great skull wall,” was found in the western section of Templo Mayor in 2015. A huge number of skulls were cemented together into a kind of frieze with lime, sand, and volcanic gravel, according to the archeologists. Other skulls were impaled on wooden poles, which were arranged along the low platform, according to the researchers.

The ceremonial location was mentioned prominently in the writings of conquistadores like Hernan Cortes, as well as monks and writers who witnessed the twilight of the Aztec civilization.

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