One of the biggest ancient archeological mysteries is the ancient Mesoamerican civilization that lived in Teotihuacan, one of the first great cities of the Western Hemisphere, and its origins are a mystery.
Researchers believe it was built by hand as early as 400 B.C., more than a thousand years before the arrival of Aztec in central Mexico. But it was the Aztec, descending on the abandoned site, who gave it a name: Teotihuacan, which can be translated roughly as “The City of the Gods” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. It was built on a north-south axis, with a wide boulevard known as Avenue of the Dead running between the 147-foot-high Temple of the Moon and a large square courtyard known as the Ciudadela (“citadel”) to the south. At the heart of the city looms the massive 213-foot-high Temple of the Sun.
A famous archaeological site located 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Mexico City, it has puzzled historians and archeologists for long time. According to George Cowgill, an archaeologist at Arizona State University, Teotihuacan reached its zenith between 100 B.C. and A.D. 650, it covered 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) and supported a population of a hundred thousand.
As no written records were left behind researchers don’t have definitive answers to a lot of questions about Teotihuacán–including who founded the city, how it was governed, what language its inhabitants spoke or what religion they practiced. However, studies based on excavated artefacts point that Teotihuacan hosted a patchwork of cultures including the Maya, Mixtec, and Zapotec. One theory says an erupting volcano forced a wave of immigrants into the Teotihuacan valley and that those refugees either built or bolstered the city.
Group of archeologists who have devoted the last 13 years to exploring a long-secret tunnel underneath one of Teotihuacán’s pyramids are in the process of discovering some answers.
According to Smithsonian Magazine a heavy rainstorm in 2003 opened a large sinkhole at the foot of the pyramid known as the Temple of the Plumed Serpent, located inside the Ciudadela. When the archaeologist Sergio Goméz, of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, lowered himself into the darkness, he found himself standing in what appeared to be a manmade tunnel.
Since that time, Gomez and a handpicked team of some 20 archaeologists and workers have been scanning the earth under the Ciudadela. A digital map completed by 2005 showed the tunnel ran approximately 330 feet from the Ciudadela to the center of the Temple of the Plumed Serpent. They found that the original entrance, located a few yards from the sinkhole, was apparently closed off with boulders some 1,800 years ago, meaning whatever was inside had remained untouched since. The team moved slowly and carefully through the tunnel, removing some 1,000 tons of earth as they made their way. By late 2015, they had recovered some 75,000 artefacts, ranging from seashells, pottery and jewelry to animal bones and even fragments of human skin.
After archeologists discovered a large cross-shaped chamber in the end of the tunnel, many hoped it was a burial tomb of some as-yet-unknown Teotihuacano ruler. Few more treasures were found inside the chamber including necklaces, jars of amber and two finely carved black stone statues, likely figures of worship for the Teotihuacanos.
However, scientists still believe an actual tomb might be hidden somewhere beneath the surface and the one has been found may represent a kind of symbolic tomb.
According to archeologists there are three more chambers still remain to be excavated and the group is working hard to unveil the mysteries of Teotihuacán.