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Aztec Temple Discovered Beneath Mexico City Hotel

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 6/9/2017 Gabe Zaldivar


Video: Ancient Aztec temple, ball court found in Mexico City// Provided by Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Mexico City is beautiful and complex with many layers.

One of its literal layers was recently peeled back to unveil a hidden temple and ancient ball court as well as the remains of 32 severed neck vertebrate.

© Flickr Reuters reports archaeologists discovered the amazing find beneath a hotel that continues to renovate its structure following a devastating 1985 earthquake. Near the famed Zocolo Plaza, officials found what appears to be a circular temple, (unlike the more iconic temple structures from the era that are square).

Researchers believe that this particular temple dates back to the time of Aztec Emperor Ahuizotl (1486-1502) who reigned just before Moctezuma, (the emperor who would eventually see his own kingdom taken over by Spanish conquistadores). The temple may be a nod to the wind god Ehecatl and is adjoined by a ritual ball court.

Losing this particular sport didn’t just result in the usual shame for the team; it often led to human sacrifice. Evidence to this is the 32 vertebrae spotted nearby.

Diego Prieto, head of Mexico's main anthropology and history institute, spoke to Reuters and explained that this site backs up what researchers had previously gleaned from ancient Spanish accounts: “Due to finds like these, we can show actual locations, the positioning and dimensions of each one of the structures first described in the chronicles.”

As for the human bones, archaeologist Raul Barrera says, “It was an offering associated with the ball game, just off the stairway. The vertebrae, or necks, surely came from victims who were sacrificed or decapitated.”

The Telegraph explains that the location was discovered thanks to a tragic natural event: “A hotel formerly stood on the site of the newly discovered ruins until 1985, when it collapsed in a catastrophic earthquake that killed thousands of people.” According to the Associated Press, the inside of the property had been demolished but the floor remained.

That's where historic gold was found: “just under the floor’s surface the foundations of a colonial house built soon after the 1521 Spanish conquest were found. Those colonial foundations, in turn, rest almost directly atop the Aztec ruins.”

This onion has been an expensive one to peel, however, as the AP explains the hotel owners have had to pony up for the cost of the dig. Reuters holds out hope that you may one day have a shot at seeing this for yourself—a museum is planned for the excavation location.

Archaeologist Eduardo Matos tells the AP: “We like it, because the (new) building will protect the ruins, so no rain, or sun, or hail will get in. So (the ruins) will be perfectly protected and lighted, and the best thing is that (the property owners) will pay for it, not us.”

The hotel or its exact location are not named in any of the reports, so we will perhaps have to wait until the dig is finished to find out where the locations of the accommodations and/or museum will go.

They will prove to be quite the lure for tourists who want to get remarkably close to this culture’s amazing history.

Mexico is resplendent with ruins such as in Tulum, Chichen Itza and Xel-Ha. Still, it’s rare to find something as majestic as those iconic structures just lurking under a decades-old hotel.


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