Original offering found at Teotihuacan pyramid

December 14, 2011 By MARK STEVENSON , Associated Press

Archaeologists announced Tuesday that they dug to the very core of Mexico's tallest pyramid and found what may be the original ceremonial offering placed on the site of the Pyramid of the Sun before construction began.

The offerings found at the base of the pyramid in the Teotihuacan ruin site just north of include a green serpentine stone mask so delicately carved and detailed that archaeologists believe it may have been a portrait.

The find also includes 11 ceremonial clay pots dedicated to a rain god similar to Tlaloc, who was still worshipped in the area 1,500 years later, according to a statement by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH.

The offerings, including bones of an eagle fed rabbits as well as feline and canine animals that haven't yet been identified, were laid on a sort of rubble base where the temple was erected about A.D. 50.

"We know that it was deposited as part of a consecration ritual for the construction of the Pyramid of the Sun," said INAH archaeologist Enrique Perez Cortes.

Experts followed an old tunnel dug through the pyramid by researchers in the 1930s that narrowly missed the center, and then dug small extensions and exploratory shafts off it.

What they found points to the earliest days of the still largely mysterious Teotihuacan culture.

The remains of three structures that predate the pyramid were found buried at the base. have known that the ceremonial significance of the site, perhaps as a "link" to the underworld, predates the .

They also found seven , some of them infant remains.

Susan Gillespie, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida who was not involved in the project, called the find "exciting and important, although I would not say it was unexpected" given that dedicatory offerings were commonly placed in MesoAmerican pyramids.

"It is exciting that what looks like the original foundation dedicatory cache for what was to become the largest (in height) pyramid in Mexico (and one of the largest in the world) has finally been found, after much concerted efforts looking for it," Gillespie wrote in an email.

She said the find gives a better picture of the continuity of religious practices during Teotihuacan's long history. Some of the same themes found in the offering are repeated in ancient murals painted on the city's walls centuries later.

George Cowgill, an anthropologist at Arizona State University, called the find "pretty important" and suggested the Tlaloc offerings may thicken the debate about whether the pyramid was linked to the sun, the underworld or Tlaloc, who was also considered a war god.

"The discovery of seven humans suggests that they were probably sacrificial victims, along with several species of fierce animals," Cowgill wrote.

The city was founded nearly 2,500 years ago and came to have a dominant influence in architecture, trade and cultural in large swaths of ancient Mexico. But the identity of its rulers remains a mystery, and the city was abandoned by the time the Aztecs arrived in the area in the 1300s and gave it the name Teotihuacan, which means "the place where men become gods."

Explore further: Egypt to open inner chambers of 'bent' pyramid


Related Stories

Egypt to open inner chambers of 'bent' pyramid

March 16, 2009

(AP) -- Travelers to Egypt will soon be able to explore the inner chambers of the 4,500-year-old "bent" pyramid, known for its oddly shaped profile, and other nearby ancient tombs, Egypt's antiquities chief announced Monday.

New insights into the life of the Maya

November 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Ancient artifacts are almost always concerned with rich and powerful religious and political leaders, but new excavations of an ancient Maya site have unearthed a pyramid decorated with murals depicting the ...

Oldest Mesoamerican pyramid tomb found in Mexico

May 18, 2010

(AP) -- Archaeologists in southern Mexico announced Monday they have discovered a 2,700-year-old tomb of a dignitary inside a pyramid that may be the oldest such burial documented in Mesoamerica.

Mummies of 15th century dogs discovered in Peru

November 10, 2010

Peruvian archaeologists have discovered six mummified dogs, all dating from the 15th century and apparently presented as religious offerings at a major pre-Columbian site just south of Lima.

Experts: Ancient Mexicans crossbred wolf-dogs

December 16, 2010

(AP) -- Mexican researchers said Wednesday they have identified jaw bones found in the pre-Hispanic ruins of Teotihuacan as those of wolf-dogs that were apparently crossbred as a symbol of the city's warriors.

Tunnel found under temple in Mexico

May 30, 2011

Researchers found a tunnel under the Temple of the Snake in the pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan, about 28 miles northeast of Mexico City.

Recommended for you

The hand and foot of Homo naledi

October 6, 2015

The second set of papers related to the remarkable discovery of Homo naledi, a new species of human relative, have been published in scientific journal, Nature Communications, on Tuesday, 6 October 2015.

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.9 / 5 (7) Dec 14, 2011
Why are there no pictures provided for the mask and the bones? Are we only supposed to use our imaginations? I would like to see a good picture of that "green serpentine stone mask so delicately carved and detailed that archaeologists believe it may have been a portrait."
5 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
Google an image of "green serpentine stone mask". I found it right away.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
Makes one wonder what all is underneath the Egyptian pyramids?
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
Ooh i wonder if the mask's haunted, like in that movie, i forget the name..

not rated yet Dec 15, 2011
Makes one wonder what all is underneath the Egyptian pyramids?

Let me guess what you think is there! Proof that aliens built the Pyramids? The proof that Atlatis exists?

Personally my favourate theory is that under the Pyramid is dirt and Rock.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 15, 2011
More props from old Jim Carey movies, probably. Ace Ventura's business card or something..

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.