Mexican archaeologists have discovered a stone sanctuary at
the bottom of a pond below the Iztaccihuatl volcano that seems to
depict a mythical model of the universe.
view of the tetzacualco (shrine) with water drained from the
pond. Credit: SAS-INAH.
The site, known as "Nahualac", is at least 1,000 years old,
judging from ceramic materials. Some of them have been identified
as belonging to the Coyotlatelco (750-900 AD), Mazapa (850 to 900
AD) and Tollan Complex (900-1150 AD) cultures.
Archaeologists at the National
Institute of Anthropology and History led by Iris del Rocio
Hernandez Bautista believe that the site was designed to depict
Meso-American myths about the creation of the universe. Namely,
it's believed the earth monster Cipactli
floated on primeval waters and then split itself, thus creating
the heavens and earth.
Nahualac site covered in water. Credit: SAS-INAH.
Archaeologists claim that the stone shrine, called
a 'tetzacualco', emulates this myth due to its positioning. According
to them, the way it was placed made the stone shrine look like it
was floating on the water surface, fitting with the myth. The Mesoamericans
likely used a ritual control of water from nearby springs to irrigate
the pond and create the visual effect.
"These visual effects, in addition to the characteristics
of the elements that make up the site and the relationship they
have with each other, make us suppose that Nahualac could represent
a microcosm that evokes the primitive waters and the beginning
of the mythical time-space," Bautista said in a statement.
"The intention that water surround specific ritual architectural
elements seems to have been an important part of Mesoamerican
researchers at the site. Credit: SAS-INAH.
About 150 meters southeast of the structure, over a wide valley
which has a number of natural springs, archaeologists also found
decorative pieces associated with the rain god Tlaloc. These, along
with pieces from the sanctuary itself, are currently examined for
their use and origin. The ritualistic nature of the site is further
strengthened by organic remains charcoal and fragments of
pink polished schist material recovered from tripod bowls
arranged as an offering.
Institute of Anthropology and History
The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) investigates,
preserves and disseminates the archaeological, anthropological,
historical and paleontological heritage of the nation in order to
strengthen the identity and memory of the society that holds.