Archaeologists discover hidden shrine in Aztec pyramid

13 July 2018

Archaeologists discover hidden shrine in Aztec pyramid

Archaeologists in Mexico have discovered a shrine hidden in the remains of the great pyramid of Teopanzolco, near Cuernavaca.

The shrine was discovered during the ongoing clean-up efforts following a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on 19 September 2017.

Archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) discovered the shrine while using radar technology to scan the pyramid for structural damage.

Atop the pyramid are the remnants of two temples, one dedicated to the Aztec rain god Tláloc and the other to the sun god Huitzilopochtli. The shrine sits about two metres below the main temple of Tláloc.

The earthquake caused serious damage to the upper part of the pyramid where the temples are located, leaving the floors sunken and dangerously destabilised.

“The pyramid suffered considerable rearrangement of the core of its structure,” said Barbara Koniecza of the INAH.

“The floor of both shrines sank and bent, which also put their stability in danger,” she added.

During recovery efforts the previously-unknown shrine was discovered, featuring architecture similar to that of the Tláloc temple above it, leading archaeologists to believe it was probably dedicated to the rain god.

The shrine would have measured about six by four metres, and a corresponding shrine to the sun god may exist on the opposite side.

Although the main structure of the pyramid was built and modified between 1200 and 1521 CE, the shrine itself was likely constructed between 1150 and 1200 CE, predating the later construction.

The Teopanzolco site was founded by the Tlahuica civilisation in about 1200 CE, who were conquered by the Aztecs in the 1400s. The Aztecs took over construction until they were conquered by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s, and the site was abandoned until rediscovered by revolutionary forces in 1910.