Newly Discovered Treasure Beneath A Pyramid Sheds Light On Ancient Mexican Rituals
Uncovering ancient artifacts can be an incredibly exciting experience as it provides us with a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors and a greater understanding of their cultures and customs.
Every artifact has a unique story to tell, and each one adds a piece to the puzzle of our collective history. From pottery to weapons, jewelry to manuscripts, every discovery has the potential to rewrite history and challenge our current understanding of the past. For archaeologist Sergio Gomez, a decade-long excavation yielded incredible results.
A Decade-Long Exploration
Sergio Gomez has dedicated over ten years to exploring a tunnel beneath a towering pyramid in Mexico. The archaeologist’s primary focus has been the study of a vast collection of unique artifacts discovered in the tunnel.
The priests placed these artifacts in the tunnel over two millennia ago, and the significance of these ancient relics is immeasurable. Despite the long period spent on this excavation, Gomez remains thoroughly committed to understanding the historical and cultural significance behind these sacred objects.
His Discoveries Are Breaking Records
The quantity and assortment of artifacts concealed in the closed-off passage underneath the elaborate Feather Serpent Pyramid of Teotihuacan have broken the record for findings in the former city.
This place was (at one time) the most inhabited urban center in the Americas. Now, it is a renowned tourist destination located just beyond the Mexico City we know today.
The Collection Is Truly Astounding
The collection of artifacts discovered in the tunnel has been immense, with over 100,000 items cataloged to date.
These range from intricately crafted statues and jewelry to ceramics and shells. The team also found thousands of well-preserved metallic and wooden objects that have stood the test of time.
Gomez Is Certainly Proud Of His Collection
With such a vast collection of artifacts, it’s pretty clear why Gomez takes quite a bit of price in his findings. During a recent visit to the conservation workshops and the large tunnel, where Gomez’s team of 30 carefully examines the collection, he proudly displayed several impressive discoveries that were previously undisclosed.
These artifacts were discovered within the 330-foot tunnel that culminates in three separate chambers situated directly beneath the pyramid’s midpoint. They are believed to be ceremonial offerings.
He Showed Off A Very Unique Recent Finding
Gomez held up a carved amber sphere the size of an average tennis ball, illuminated by the light from his cell phone. He then asked the team if the inside was visible.
The ornament is the first of its kind to be discovered in Teotihuacan, and it gleamed similar to molten lava in the light. Gomez suspects it may have hung from a priest’s neck, given its tiny top and internal residue that requires further analysis, which he speculates could be tobacco.
This Tunnel Was Likely A Place Of Great Spiritual Significance
Gomez stated that customs here were similar to other ancient cultures in Mexico. The priests entering this tunnel most likely consumed mushrooms or other hallucinogenic plants during their rituals.
He went on to explain that the chambers, which are around 40 feet below the surface and tall enough to walk through in most places, were constructed to mesmerize individuals. The floor and walls were covered in finely ground iron pyrite, also called fool’s gold, because of its similarity to the real metal.
Was The Cave Representative Of The Great Beyond?
According to Gomez, the people created the tunnel to replicate their cosmovision underworld. He even believes they were utilized to initiate upcoming rulers.
He also explained that the priests would have seen the walls shimmer as they moved through the space with a torch. The area, which has never been robbed and remains damp, was utilized for over two centuries until 250 to 300 A.D., as determined by scientific dating.
The Caves Were Part Of Ancient Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan was a prosperous civilization that existed concurrently with ancient Han China and Rome, flourishing from approximately 100 B.C. to 550 A.D. The city lay just 30 miles outside of modern-day Mexico City.
The metropolis housed as many as 200,000 inhabitants, most of whom resided in multi-family dwellings made of stone and adorned with vibrant murals. It had become a religious center for the people in the Mexican Highlands and one of the most populated places in the region.
Much of What We Know About These People Remains A Mystery
There is still much to learn about the Teotihuacan civilization, including their language. Experts are still trying to determine whether they had a writing system similar to the Aztec system.
The Aztecs dominated northern Mexico during this time before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, gaining power in the region for approximately 800 years following the collapse of Teotihuacan. Just like the people before them, they held the ruins in high esteem.
What Truly Interested Gomez Was Something Quite Unusual
The caves certainly provided plenty of interest for the team. However, as Gomez led the way through the deserted tunnel, he paused at the spot where a sizable ceremonial offering was discovered.
The priests had fastidiously positioned 17 shell layers atop one another. The lowermost layers were crushed. Gomez clarified that this was likely due to the priests stepping on the shells themselves – perhaps as part of a ceremony.
With Caution, The Team Excavated Some Incredible Findings
Gomez emphasizes that his careful tunnel excavation, which had been clogged with mud for centuries, was very thorough. The process was so meticulous that traces of human skin and hair were retrieved.
In certain instances, skin and hair may be preserved for thousands of years if the conditions are optimal. For example, if the remains are frozen, dried, or buried in acidic soil, they may remain well-preserved.
The Cave Was Filled With Gifts To The Underworld
Based on the findings, it seems that the ceremonies conducted throughout the tunnel consisted of presenting gifts to the underworld’s rulers and the city’s primary god — Tlaloc. In fact, a multitude of similar-looking shiny blackened jars resembling the storm god had been unearthed.
The Teotihuacan storm god, also known as Tlaloc, was a significant deity in the Teotihuacan civilization. Tlaloc was associated with rain, fertility, and agriculture and was believed to have the power to bring life to crops.
They Also Discovered Several Luxurious Offerings
Among the most opulent offerings in the tunnel are countless items crafted from imperial jade – one of the most valuable stones in the world. These treasures comprise necklaces, pendants, and ear spools (including one resembling a crocodile).
The significance of the crocodile in Teotihuacan culture is not entirely clear. However, it is believed that crocodiles were regarded as a symbol of power and strength due to their ferocity and ability to survive in diverse environments.
Some Of The Findings Were Likely Imported
Numerous iron pyrite fragments that once gleamed have been discovered, including beads, disks, and the lower portion of a cup. These artifacts, numbered in the thousands, may have been imported from far-flung locations such as Honduras.
Ancient people in the region often used canoes and rafts to transport goods by water and llamas and other animals to transport goods over land. They also built roads and trails for easier transport of goods.
In All, More Than Eight-Thousand Wooden Objects Were Unearthed
A vast array of wooden artifacts was discovered, including bowls, plates, and other unique objects. In addition, the remains of approximately thirty-six different animal species, with a particular emphasis on predators such as pumas and jaguars, were found, including their skulls and claws.
It is possible that the Teotihuacan people kept jaguar and puma skulls as they were considered sacred in their culture. However, it’s also possible that they were used for ritualistic or ceremonial purposes.
Gomez Now Has Plans To Digitally Recreate These Objects
In addition to traditional restoration efforts, Gomez’s 30-person team is creating 3D digital reconstructions of the found artifacts to provide online access to their original appearance. Of course, this kind of project is no walk in the park.
Creating 3D digital reconstructions of ancient artifacts involves several steps. A team must capture data, create a digital model, refine the model using color, texture, and other details, and publish it to share online.
The Truly Significant Discovery Took Place In July
Gomez expressed his utmost satisfaction upon making the final unearthing discovery in July. In a circled-shaped pit previously overlooked by the team’s laser scans, it looked as if ancient priests had deposited four floral bunches.
The priests then sat a heap of wood and bunches of nopal seeds, corn, and chile on top of the flowers, in addition to a small stone carving of the pyramid. Certain flowers were of great significance to the Teotihuacan people.
The Priests Had Set Everything On Fire
Luckily for Gomez, they ignited everything in the circular pit. As a result of the burnt timber, Gomez will likely identify the specific year of the smoke-infused ceremony.
It’s possible to date ancient burnt timber through a scientific technique called dendrochronology or tree-ring dating, which looks at the pattern of tree rings in a sample of wood. This technique can provide precise dates for wood up to thousands of years old.
Gomez’s Unearthing Was A Breakthrough
The flowers discovered at Teotihuacan were unparalleled. In fact, this discovery represented the initial instance of preserved plant remnants found at the site.
Unfortunately, the significance of flowers to the Teotihuacan people is not fully understood and will require more unearthing to gain insight. However, discovering intact plant remains at the site provides valuable insights into the ancient civilization’s use of plants and their cultural practices, a huge step forward for Gomez.
These Flowers Could Give Us Insight Into The People’s Religious Beliefs
Additionally, the flowers’ discovery suggests a possible connection to the Teotihuacan people’s religious beliefs, as flowers have been traditionally associated with various religious practices throughout history. As we know, flowers were highly significant to the Aztecs, who saw them as a symbol of beauty, fertility, and rebirth.
In Aztec culture, flowers were used for various purposes, including religious ceremonies, medicine, and decoration. By studying these ancient plant remnants, researchers can shed light on the rich and complex culture of the Teotihuacan people and their relationship with the natural world.
Studying Artifacts Like This Can Bring Us Closer To The People In Ancient Civilizations
Studying ancient artifacts is a fascinating and rewarding experience that can help us connect with the people of the past and gain a deeper understanding of their culture and way of life. Examining artifacts such as pottery, jewelry, and tools provides a glimpse into the lives of people who lived thousands of years ago.
By analyzing these objects, we can learn about daily routines, beliefs, and customs. Gomez notes how discovering these objects has made him feel “close to the people who were there.”