#MexicoToday: Under the hustle and bustle of modern Mexico City lie the ruins of the pre-Hispanic Aztec capital, once known as Tenochtitlán. The center of this ancient capital was the Templo Mayor, which archeologists discovered in the mid 1900s and excavated in the seventies under the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral. Still a site for active digs, archeologists have recently discovered an Aztec ceremonial platform while doing remodeling work around the Templo Mayor in the centro historico, one of downtown Mexico City’s main attractions.
This newly discovered ceremonial platform is speculated to have been built around AD 1469 and is decorated with carvings of serpent heads, important in determining what the platform was used for. A critical piece in a challenging puzzle for historians, this platform could represent a cremation site for Aztec rulers. To date, archeologists have never found any royal Aztec tombs in their excavations of the ancient capital. Researchers have been on a five-year quest to unearth remains of Aztec emperors around the Templo Mayor basing their digs on old historical accounts of cremation ceremonies written by Roman Catholic priests who accompanied the Spanish conquest in 1521. The records suggest that the Aztec rulers were cremated at the foot of the Templo Mayor and this platform may be part of the same structure. Archeologists around the world agree that the discovery of a royal tomb would be a major break through in understanding Aztec kingship, burial and the structure of the empire.
The blend of pre-Hispanic and modern cultures in Mexico City and the continual discovery of ancient history in this metropolitan capital make the city a unique destination for the savvy traveler. While this new platform will continue to be excavated until possibly May 2012, the Templo Mayor and it’s adjacent museum in the Historic Center of Mexico City (included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list), remain open to the public. If you are interested in visiting Mexico City or other archaeological sites, contact Journey Mexico.