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It’s 2017, and another day at work as an archeologist for the National Institute of
Anthropology and History.
One milk and two sugars in your coffee, you settle down into your chair in front of the
computer.
Who would think this would be the day you’d discover a secret passage to the underworld
in one of the most important yet mysterious pyramids in the world?
Not you, not today.
Your job isn’t quite as exciting as people seem to think when you tell them you’re
an archeologist.
You definitely have to play the long game – rather than digging up ancient ruins at
historical sites every day, you’re spending your time looking at a computer screen, trying
to map out images and scans from the office instead of being directly involved in the
action.
You still love what you do of course, but it’s not exactly glamorous.
Right now, you’re working on a collaboration with the Geography Institute of a local university,
the Autonomous University of Mexico, to find out more about a pyramid at one of the most
significant historical sites in Mexico, Teotihuacán.
The area is a huge tourist attraction and has extremely well-preserved ruins, but you’ve
wanted to know what lies beneath the surface for a long time, and nobody has ever looked
below the Pyramid of the Moon as you are now.
Along with your team, you’ve been mapping the area digitally, and now you’re surveying
the results.
As you look at the subterranean map, you notice a slight cavity.
Hmm, interesting.
In your experience, cavities in ancient structures tend to lead to something else.
Could this actually be something exciting?
You call a colleague over and look at some more images together.
And wait, what’s this?
A door?
No, it’s more than that – that’s a whole tunnel.
You’re in shock as you investigate further.
Already you’ve found more than you expected to – discoveries like this don’t happen
very often.
Researching more and putting everything together, you find that the Pyramid of the Moon has
a hidden tunnel roughly 10 meters below the ground with a diameter of around 15 meters
and that it leads into a huge chamber.
Such a significant site, buried under the ground for hundreds of years and invisible
to the naked eye.
You weren’t expecting that when you arrived to work this morning.
Yet the appearance of the tunnel raises more questions than it answers.
Who built it?
What did they build it for?
And there’s something eerie about that big chamber under the ground…
Teotihuacán is an ancient city that dates way back pre-Columbian times, located around
fifty kilometers from what is now Mexico City.
Once the heart of Mesoamerica civilization, Teotihuacán was the most important and powerful
city of the region back in its heyday, and the home of 125,000 people or more.
Even all these years later, it makes for an impressive sight.
The first thing that strikes you when you see Teotihuacán is the towering, awe-striking
pyramids.
At the far end of the site is the Pyramid of the Moon, under which archeologists recently
discovered the secret tunnel.
It’s only the second-largest pyramid, at a puny thirty-four meters high, but it is
the most elevated point in the village since it was built on an incline.
It’s surrounded by twelve smaller pyramids, which were probably used for sacrifices.
Wasn’t everything back then?
Close by the Pyramid of the Moon is – you guessed it – the Pyramid of the Sun.
At 66 meters tall, it’s the largest pyramid.
And to keep the theme going, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun are connected
by a road called The Avenue of the Dead.
I don’t know who created this damn village, but they were sure extra with their names.
Finally, going slightly off-theme, at the other end of the village is the Temple of
the Feathered Serpent.
Now, that might sound like a slightly strange name, but we used to have to call the temple
Quetzalcoatl, so I’m not complaining…
The village of Teotihuacán is laid out in a grid, kinda like most American cities – I
guess those architects really were ahead of their time.
As well as the main pyramids, it was home to thousands of apartment-like compounds,
plazas, palaces, and more.
Plenty of places for sacrifice no doubt.
Unfortunately, these superficial facts are pretty much the extent of our knowledge about
Teotihuacán.
I’ve been talking in loose, vague terms about the society who built it and lived there
for a reason – we don’t know who they were.
Most of the story of the historical site is also shrouded by mystery.
It’s believed that the city was founded around 150 BC, although some estimations put
this as early as 400BC.
This is roughly the same time period as Ancient Rome existed.
But we don’t have a cool, catchy name for the people who built Teotihuacán since we
just don’t really know anything about them.
The most famous ancient civilizations from Mexico are the Mayans and the Aztecs, but
neither of these groups could have been responsible for building Teotihuacán.
The Mayans came from the south of the country, in Yucatán and bordering countries Guatemala
and Belize, and the Aztecs didn’t even come on to the scene until around 1300 AD.
Pffft – call that ancient?
So, who did build the city?
Researchers used to believe that another ancient civilization called the Toltecs were the ones
who lived there, but this has since been debunked by most people in the know.
Idiots – of course it wasn’t the Toltecs.
An alternative idea is that the Totonacs built it – yes, that’s the Totonacs and not
the Toltecs, I know it gets confusing.
Finally, some believe Teotihuacán was built by various immigrants who fled the eruption
of a nearby volcano, presumably forming some kind of multicultural utopia where everyone
loved each other regardless of their background.
This would make some sense since the architecture of the city has aspects from the Mayan, Mixtec,
and Zapotec cultures.
The little evidence available shows that the town was probably at the peak of its influence
at around A.D. 300, when it was the most powerful city of the region.
But, like all great empires, it met its inevitable collapse.
About 300 years later, by A.D. 750, the village was completely deserted.
The descent of greatness probably began in 600 A.D., because that’s when many buildings
were burned and religious sculptures were destroyed.
Presumably, some kind of revolution took place against the ruling classes to cause such drastic
actions of rebellion – you don’t touch the scriptures unless you’re really serious.
Alternatively, it’s possible that the city was invaded, and the attackers were the ones
to start burning and destroying everything.
This seems slightly unlikely considering the power and influence of Teotihuacán, but then
again, maybe they should have focused on defensive military structures instead of making temples
dedicated to feathered serpents and impractical secret tunnels that don’t actually lead
to anywhere.
However, all those pyramids and temples weren’t built in vain.
The Aztecs discovered Teotihuacán when they appeared in the 1300s and decided the village
was pretty cool, so they took it for themselves.
Actually, it was the Aztecs that came up with the name Teotihuacán, which means ‘the
place where men become gods’ in the ancient Aztec language of Nahuatl.
But if you think that’s hard to pronounce, just wait until you hear its original name.
It’s believed that Teotihuacán used to be called Meztli Itzácual.
But truth be told, nobody really knows much about the original civilization.
Ever since the seventeenth century, archeologists and historians have been trying to figure
out more about the mysterious location.
That’s why the discovery of the tunnel is so significant – it could give historians
the clues they need to get to the bottom of this once and for all.
You know better than anyone the struggles that researchers before you have gone through
to find out more about Teotihuacán.
Although there have been a few findings there, they always led to more questions than answers.
Some archeology researchers previously found skeletons with skull deformations in the remains
of the Pyramid of the Moon, indicating that something similar could be found beneath the
ground.
Then, between 1998 and 2004, the remains of hundreds of animals were also found.
It all pointed to something big.
That’s why your institute decided to look below once and for all.
And you did it without even having to break the ground, thanks to a sophisticated technique
called electrical resistivity tomography.
It’s a fancy way of saying that you measured the electrical potential of everything below
the ground to figure out if there was anything from above the earth, lying beneath it.
So, instead of going below the ground and investigating yourself at the risk of ruining
such an important site, you and your colleagues injected electric currents into the subsoil
around the pyramid.
This allowed you to measure the resistance of different materials found and create 2D
and 3D models.
The subterranean images just look like a mesh of green, yellow, and red blobs at first,
but seeing the resistivity map of the area and gauging the geologic properties helped
you to discover a cavity, which turned out to be a tunnel.
And, examining further, you realized that the tunnel led to a whole chamber.
Yet, once again it’s led to confusion.
What was the so-called Pyramid of the Moon actually used for?
I mean, it wasn’t exactly easy to create such a deep tunnel a thousand years ago.
You can be sure that the Toltecs, the Totonacs, or whoever they were, didn’t just build
one on a whim.
Most researchers now think the chamber was used for funeral rituals and the tunnel was
a route to the underworld.
They’re as good a reason as any, I suppose.
Many of the features found around and beneath the Pyramid of the Moon resemble underground
chambers from similar ruins that we know were used for these kinds of rituals.
Other tombs have contained human remains from sacrifices and other items like jewelry and
grave objects – and similar items have been found near the Pyramid of the Moon.
In 2004, human sacrifices of people with their hands bound behind them, or even decapitated,
were found in the Pyramid of the Moon.
Yeah, back then you needed to put your head down and avoid eye contact whenever anyone
mentioned a ritual or sacrifice.
Archeologists have also found animal remains of canines, felines, and birds – all breeds
associated with warriors and fighting.
The sacrifices were probably done to celebrate state power and militarism, in the hope the
gods would ensure Teotihuacán remained strong and prosperous forevermore.
Funnily enough, it seems it didn’t work…
Another giveaway that the chamber was used for rituals is the presence of various green
megalithic stones found near the pyramid.
These stones were very valuable at the time and often used for sacred rituals, so it’s
unlikely that they were just there by chance.
This is a further indicator that the chamber under the pyramid was used for special ceremonies.
And the tunnel?
Well, we know that other cultures present in Mesoamerica at the time were very concerned
with the underworld and created tunnels under their greatest monuments to emulate it.
They believed that life, plants, and food were created in the underworld, so building
a passage to it was another way of guaranteeing prosperity, and was used to celebrate agricultural
cycles.
It seems extremely likely that the tunnel under Teotihuacán was built for this purpose,
too.
The Pyramid of the Moon isn’t the only place on the Teotihuacán site that’s been found
to house a tunnel below its grounds.
In the 1970s, researchers discovered connections under the Pyramid of the Sun similar to those
under the Pyramid of the Moon.
But, tantalizingly, it turned out they had already been looted – probably by indigenous
people.
So, we were left none the wiser about who the mysterious people who built these tunnels
actually were, and what intentions they had.
In 2003, a sinkhole opened in front of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, leading to
the accidental discovery of another tunnel.
It was found to be 100 meters long, with the entrance eerily sealed by boulders.
Here, archeologists found around 75,000 artifacts – but they’ll take many more years to
analyze and restore fully.
And there’s even more left to discover of the chambers – archeologists are literally
using toothbrushes to uncover remains without damaging anything, so it’s going to take
a while.
Interestingly, a single tomb is yet to be found on the site.
Whereas other ancient civilizations, like the Mayans for example, are famous for giving
their rulers opulent tombs, the leaders of Teotihuacán seem to have vanished without
a trace.
I guess they were just more low-key.
Or maybe they really did manage to head off into the afterlife…
When it comes to Teotihuacán, we know so much and yet so little.
We’ve discovered three secret tunnels and numerous remains of all shapes and sizes,
yet we still have no idea who the people were who lived there.
This knowledge gap will hopefully go away in the future, as archeologists uncover more
of what lies below and make some sense of it.
An entrance has been found to the tunnel under the Pyramid of the Moon, so researchers may
be making their way to the underworld soon.
Let’s just hope it hasn’t already been looted…
To learn more about the confusing world of ancient civilization, check out our video
about the supposed curse on those who opened King Tut’s tomb, or how an ancient civilization
in Malta vanished.
Whichever you choose, we guarantee you’ll enjoy it, so click now!
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Secret Tunnel Discovered Under Ancient Pyramid

21 分類 收藏
Summer 發佈於 2020 年 8 月 2 日
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