Teotihuacán. The timeworn megalithic complex and its Mesoamerican inhabitants have long been shrouded in mystery. Located 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, this site has continued to baffle researchers and archaeologists as to its origins, its purpose, and the peoples who called the site home. Based on orthodox conventions, Teotihuacán was settled as early as 400 BCE. The culture continued to develop and began to thrive around 400 CE, thus becoming a dominant power in Central America. The city was home to some 200,000 people and it is commonly accepted that Teotihuacán was one of the most influential cities in the Americas.
The site has maintained its ambiguity – defending the illusive nature of the megalithic complex. However, after the discovery of a previously unknown hidden tunnel beneath one of the great pyramids of Teotihuacán, researchers are digging deeper than ever before into the heart of this enigmatic civilization.
Another orthodox view suggests that the Aztecs encountered the long abandoned ruins in the 1300’s CE. It was the Aztecs who proudly provided the city with the name of Teotihuacán, which, in the Aztec language of Nahuatl, means “The City of the Gods.” So, what happened? How did such an influential culture vanish?
Researchers have long since found evidence of the city having been burned and looted several times between the height of Teotihuacán’s power in 400 BCE and its abandonment in roughly 750 CE. Many scholars believe that the surviving Teotihuacanos were either absorbed in neighboring cultures or followed trade routes to their ancestral homelands. However, much of these theories are based on the limited evidence actually found at the site.
1,200 years after the abandonment of Teotihuacán, archeologists still know very little. Thanks to a lack of written records, scholars are lacking definitive answers to droves of questions including who founded Teotihuacán, how was the city governed, what language did the Teotihuacanos speak, and what religion was practiced at Teotihuacán. However, after 13 years of exploring the long-hidden tunnel, the pyramids of Teotihuacán are finally whispering their secrets to the world.
As reported in 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 his first encounter with the darkness, Gomez and his team have worked tirelessly to excavate the tunnel, which runs some 330 feet from the Ciudadela to the center of the temple. The original entrance has been discovered, located a few yards from the sinkhole, and was apparently closed off with boulders over 1,800 years ago. This is incredibly exciting, as this means whatever was inside has remained untouched since. The team has painstakingly removed some 1,000 tons of earth in their effort to progress through the tunnel. By late 2015, the team has recovered over 75,000 artifacts, including pottery, seashells, jewelry, animal bones, and fragments of human skin. Cozy.
Gomez and his team discovered that the tunnel ended in a large cross-shaped chamber. This chamber contained hoards of jewelry and impressive statues, thus building excitement for the potential discovery of a burial tomb of an unknown Teotihuacano ruler. The chamber has given up incredible amounts of treasures, including necklaces, jars of amber, and statues thought to be Teotihuacano deities. The team has yet to locate the prospective tomb, however, they are confident that they are heading in the right direction.
As for the artifacts already uncovered, Goméz told Smithsonian: “You could spend a whole career evaluating the contents.” Three more chambers still remain to be excavated, and the archaeologists are working painstakingly – with toothbrushes – to ensure they don’t damage what lies beneath the surface. Are we finally witnessing the secrets of Teotihuacán coming to life?
About the Author: Andrew is the founder and editor in chief of Lost Origins. He is also the host of the radio show that falls under the same moniker. Andrew has been researching ancient mysteries, alternative historical theories, and lost civilizations for over fifteen years and founded Lost Origins to provide a sounding board for authors and researchers to share their theories and concepts with the world. Andrew is currently working to complete two manuscripts that explore several ancient mysteries. He lives in Denver with his family.