Category: Media & Culture / February 14, 2013 4:19 PM EST
Mexican archaeologists have uncovered a sculpture of Huehueteotl, the God of Fire, on top of the towering Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, as well as two complete monoliths in green stone and the fragment of another, which could have decorated the temple of this pyramid 1,500 years ago.
The soaring Teotihuacan stone pyramids, now a major tourist site about an hour outside Mexico City, were discovered by the ancient Aztecs around 1500 AD, not long before the arrival of Spanish explorers to Mexico.
But little is known about the civilization that built the immense city, with its ceremonial architecture and geometric temples, and then torched and abandoned it around 700 AD.
The monuments - found at 66 metres (216 feet) above the ground - are the largest ever found at the site as archaeologists look for clues about the mysterious collapse of one of ancient civilization's largest cities.
Archaeologists said they found the pieces inside a grave measuring four metres wide (13 feet), 17 metres (55 feet) long and five metres (16 feet) deep.
"We identified we were dealing with a pillaged grave. When we continued to excavate, we found several objects such as a block of green stone, a sculpture representing a large sized old god, atypical to those found here in Teotihuacan and a green-stone monolith, we call stele, 5 meters (16 feet) deep inside the pillaged grave, those were some of the pieces and sculptures we found," said archaeologist, Nelly Zoe Nunez Rendon.
The temple which stood on top of the pyramid was destroyed by the people who inhabited the city, later dubbed "The Place Where Men Become Gods" by the Aztecs who believed it was a divine site. Nevertheless some objects - like the monoliths were left there.
Archaeologists believe the grave was excavated during pre-Hispanic times.
"The temple was destroyed by the Teotihuacans at the end of the fifth century, at the start of the sixth. They destroyed the temple, but left the architectural elements, they even ignored them. We suppose, they looked for the offering, there was also an offering on top of public buildings. We think the grave intended to discredit the offering," said archaeologist, Alejandro Sarabia.
With the passing of time, the pieces which had been left in situ fell inside a hole and remained there for centuries. These new excavations could be the key to unlocking information about the sacred rituals of the people who lived there.
The discovery of the sculpture of Huehueteotl, the God of Fire, found 75 percent complete weighs about 190 kilos (418 pounds) and 58 cms (22 inches) in height, indicates the Pyramid of the Sun could have been used to carry out rituals dedicated to fire at the end of calendar cycles.
Teotihuacan is Mexico's oldest major archaeological site and during its heyday in 500 AD, the city was home to some 200,000 people, rivalling the size of ancient Rome at that time, according to archaeologists.
Today, it is surrounded by encroaching slums spilling over from the outskirts of Mexico City, but swarms of tourists still visit the giant 212-foot (65-meter) sun pyramid each year to celebrate the spring equinox festival marking the sun's return to the northern hemisphere.
(Video Source: Reuters)