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Teopanzolco, Morelos

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Major discovery was made when scientists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) used a radar to check for structural damage to the Teopanzolco pyramid in Teopanzolco, Morelos.

INAH (Google Translated):

The discovery was made after the earthquake of September 19, which caused an inclination and a collapse in the center of the pyramidal building

When intervening it was found walls covered with stucco, a stool and remains of a pilaster, elements of a substructure possibly of the Middle Postclassic period (1150-1200 AD)

The force of nature that recently generated devastation in diverse entities of the nation, has also revealed secrets that history has kept. An example of this is the finding of a substructure located by specialists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) inside the pyramid of the Archaeological Zone of Teopanzolco, in Cuernavaca, Morelos, and that possibly corresponds to the oldest occupation of the area. site.

At a press conference, Isabel Campos Goenaga, director of the INAH Morelos Center, highlighted that during the consolidation and restoration work of the main structure of Teopanzolco, which was one of the most affected by the earthquake of September 19, 2017, aimed at to reinforce its nucleus, when making the coves and wells of sounding to arrive at the center and to see the conditions in which it was, was discovered such vestige.

“In spite of what the earthquake meant, it is necessary to be thankful that for this natural phenomenon appeared this important structure that changes the dating of the archaeological site”.

He affirmed that Teopanzolco, in addition to being considered one of the most important sites of the Tlahuicas in the region, finds this finding within the first stages of what would later be the Mexica period.

In this work, headed by the archaeologist Bárbara Konieczna, from the INAH Morelos Center, with the collaboration of her colleague Georgia Yris Bravo López, the walls of a possible temple were discovered with a stool and the remains of a stuccoed pilaster that supported a roof; apparently, it is the vestiges of the first constructive stage of the Teopanzolco pyramid, whose antiquity could correspond to the Middle Postclassic period (1150-1200 AD), according to the characteristics of its constructive system.

“This finding changes the chronology of Teopanzolco, since the basement was first discovered and then, in the image of that type of construction, the Templo Mayor was built in Tenochtitlan. It is not that the Mexicas have contributed this architectural style to this region, on the contrary, the Tlahuica constructions inspired them to build the Templo Mayor, “said Barbara Konieczna.

After the onslaught of nature, among the various affectations that this patrimonial site presented, whose main chronology is located in the Late Postclassic period (1200 to 1521 AD), the pyramid underwent a considerable rearrangement of the core of its structure. The most serious damage was located at the top, where the temples of Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli are located; there, the floor between both shrines sank and bent, which put their stability in danger.

In order to verify the damages in the core of the building and to carry out the works for its recovery, two wells of sounding were opened, one inside the temple of Tlaloc and another one in the corridor that separates the oratories. Previously, studies were conducted with a georadar from the Geophysics Laboratory of the National Archeology Coordination of INAH, headed by Dr. José Ortega.

After the analyzes made to the pyramidal structure and on the platform of Ehécatl, located on the northwest side of the square and which was also damaged, it was decided to intervene the archaeological monument.

Bárbara Konieczna, responsible for the archaeological zone, explained that due to the humidity accumulated in decades and the strength of the seismic movement, the core of the construction was in a very bad state of conservation: the earth washed away leaving great cavities between the stones, which caused its instability and the mentioned damages.

For its part, the archaeologist Georgia Bravo Lopez explained that approximately two meters below the level of the floor that currently has the top of the pyramid, were located the vestiges of the substructure, whose architectural pattern is very similar to the current temple: walls double facade made of elongated stones, well cut and slabs, covered with stucco to the outside and a bench that is not continuous.

In the well located between the temples was a pilaster covered with stucco that has a sloping base, similar to those that supported the roofs of the exterior temples.

On this last architectonic element, the archaeologist Bárbara Konieczna mentioned that the ceilings could be of perishable material, since no evidence of the possible masonry cover has been found, unlike the roof of the double temples of the Templo Mayor, in the Mexico City.

Due to the humidity, the stucco of the walls is almost pulverized, but it was possible to rescue some fragments that will be intervened. The stuccoed floors of the temple are on a firm leveling made of ground tezontle; under a part of these a thin layer of coal was discovered.

Konieczna said that the possible shrine found could have been dedicated to Tlaloc – just like the one located on it – whose approximate size would be six meters long by four wide, with the access stairway on the west side. “Possibly, on the right side are the remains of another temple dedicated to Huitzilopochtli.”

The access to the temple is the same that leads to the upper part of the known structure: the stairway that is currently appreciated was only enlarged when the new temples of Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli were built; The front of both shrines, the newly discovered and the exposed, is oriented to the west.

The archaeologist mentioned that ceramic remains and a censer were also found with Tlahuica motives, as well as an important amount of coal that could be both from the ritual activity that took place in the temple, and from the possible destruction of the same to make way for the next constructive stage, or treat of remains of some disaster happened in the place.

Georgia Bravo Lopez said that so far there is no evidence of any offering, only fragmented archaeological materials have been found such as the censer, which was 15 centimeters below the current level of the floor; the pieces will be analyzed by carbon 14 to determine to which period they belong.

“There was no news, until now, of the existence of a substructure within the pyramidal structure. What we found could correspond to Teopanzolco’s oldest temple, but more studies are needed to see if it is associated with an early phase of the Middle Postclassic period (1150-1200 AD), which would make it contemporary with the first constructive phase of the Pyramid of Tenayuca, in the State of Mexico, which is the first with a double staircase to access the upper part where the two temples are located, “concluded the archaeologist.




Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)



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