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HomeARCHEOLOGYTeotihuacan's Ritual Treasures: Excavating a Stunning 2,000-Year-Old Serpentine Mask

Teotihuacan’s Ritual Treasures: Excavating a Stunning 2,000-Year-Old Serpentine Mask

Teotihuacan, the majestic archaeological site northeast of Mexico City, has long captivated the imagination of historians, archaeologists, and curious travelers alike. This ancient city, which flourished between 100 BC and 700 AD, is renowned for its breathtaking pyramids, grand avenues, and the wealth of information it holds about the advanced civilizations that once thrived in Mesoamerica. Now, a recent discovery has shed new light on the rituals and practices that marked the beginnings of one of Teotihuacan’s most iconic structures – the Pyramid of the Sun.

Uncovering Offerings at the Pyramid of the Sun

In a remarkable feat of archaeological exploration, researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have uncovered a small treasure trove of items that may have been placed as offerings to mark the start of construction on the Pyramid of the Sun nearly 2,000 years ago. These offerings, meticulously excavated from within the pyramid itself, offer a tantalizing glimpse into the beliefs and practices of the Teotihuacan people.

The Offerings: A Mosaic of Artifacts

2000 years old green serpentine stone mask found at the base of Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacán, Mexico : r/pics

By using a 380-foot-long tunnel dug by archeologists in the 1930s, the group was able to get to the mother-rock level. Once there, they discovered a rare cache of treasures. This included shards of clay pottery, animal bones, pieces of obsidian, three serpentine human figurines, and a stunning serpentine mask. The green mask is particularly interesting because, at the time of its discovery, it was the only mask of its kind to be found in a ritual context in Teotihuacan.

It’s believed that these offerings were left as part of a ritual to inaugurate the construction of the pyramid—hence its location at the lower level. The mask itself is extremely lifelike, which gave rise to the theory that it’s actually a portrait. This would be incredible, as archeologists have little information about the people who constructed Teotihuacan. There are also conflicting theories about the exact use of the pyramid. Even the name isn’t original.

The Significance of the Offerings

The discovery of these offerings holds immense significance for our understanding of Teotihuacan’s past. The placement of these items within the very foundation of the Pyramid of the Sun suggests that they were part of a dedication ceremony, marking the beginning of construction on one of the city’s most iconic structures.

Moreover, the presence of human remains, possibly sacrificial offerings, echoes similar discoveries made at the nearby Pyramid of the Moon in 2004. These findings shed light on the complex rituals and belief systems that were integral to the Teotihuacan civilization, and the pivotal role that the pyramids played in their spiritual and cultural practices.

The Ongoing Exploration of Teotihuacan

 

The excavations within the Pyramid of the Sun are part of a broader effort by INAH researchers to uncover the secrets of Teotihuacan. Over the past several years, they have dug 59 holes and three short tunnels, uncovering seven human burials, some of which predate the construction of the pyramid itself.

These ongoing investigations promise to yield even more insights into the daily lives, beliefs, and aspirations of the Teotihuacan people, as well as the remarkable engineering and architectural feats that they achieved. Each new discovery serves to deepen our understanding of this captivating ancient civilization and its enduring legacy.

Conclusion

The offerings uncovered at the base of the Pyramid of the Sun stand as a testament to the rich cultural and spiritual traditions of the Teotihuacan people. These artifacts, carefully placed to mark the beginning of one of the city’s most iconic structures, offer a tangible connection to the beliefs and practices that shaped the lives of those who once inhabited this ancient metropolis. As researchers continue to explore the secrets of Teotihuacan, the world is granted a deeper appreciation for the ingenuity, complexity, and enduring significance of this remarkable ancient civilization.

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