Ancient Aztec temple, ball court found in Mexico City

June 8, 2017
View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual ball game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017

A giant temple to the Aztec god of the wind and a court where the Aztecs played a deadly ball game have been discovered in the heart of Mexico City.

Archaeologists unveiled the rare finds Wednesday after extensive excavations, giving journalists a tour of the semi-circular of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and nearby ball court.

Records indicate that Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes first watched the ritual Aztec ball game at the court in 1528, invited by the last Aztec emperor, Montezuma—the man whose empire he went on to conquer.

Historians believe the game involved players using their hips to keep a ball in play—as well as ritual human sacrifices.

Archaeologists uncovered 32 sets of human neck bones at the , which they said were likely the remains of people who were decapitated as part of the ritual.

Only part of the structure remains—a staircase and a portion of the stands. Archaeologists estimate the original was about 50 meters (165 feet) long.

The temple, meanwhile, is a giant semi-circle perched atop an even larger rectangular base. The whole thing once measured some 34 meters across and four meters high, said.

The ancient structures stand in startling contrast with the sprawling mega-city that now surrounds them, which was built atop the ruins of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan.

Mexican archaeologist Raul Barerra gives an explanation during a tour by the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual ball game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City, on June 7, 2017

They are just the latest ancient vestiges to be discovered in the historic city center, at what is known as the Great Temple site.

"The discovery we are looking at is a new chance to immerse ourselves in the splendor of the pre-Hispanic city of Tenochtitlan," Culture Minister Maria Cristina Garcia said.

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.

The hotel's owners then noticed the ancient remains and alerted the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Archaeologists believe the temple celebrated the god of the wind and was built between 1486 and 1502.

Officials said they plan to open the site to the public, although no date has been set.

View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual ball game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017

Explore further: Circular temple to god of wind uncovered in Mexico City

Related Stories

Unearthing the secrets of the Aztecs

April 7, 2017

For more than two decades, leading Mexican archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma directed the excavations of the main Aztec temple, located in the ancient capital of Tenochtitlan, in what is now Mexico City's famous central ...

Recommended for you

Metacognition training boosts gen chem exam scores

October 20, 2017

It's a lesson in scholastic humility: You waltz into an exam, confident that you've got a good enough grip on the class material to swing an 80 percent or so, maybe a 90 if some of the questions go your way.

Scientists see order in complex patterns of river deltas

October 19, 2017

River deltas, with their intricate networks of waterways, coastal barrier islands, wetlands and estuaries, often appear to have been formed by random processes, but scientists at the University of California, Irvine and other ...

Six degrees of separation: Why it is a small world after all

October 19, 2017

It's a small world after all - and now science has explained why. A study conducted by the University of Leicester and KU Leuven, Belgium, examined how small worlds emerge spontaneously in all kinds of networks, including ...

Ancient DNA offers new view on saber-toothed cats' past

October 19, 2017

Researchers who've analyzed the complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient samples representing two species of saber-toothed cats have a new take on the animals' history over the last 50,000 years. The data suggest that ...

0 comments

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.