Saturday, July 19, 2008

Experts to Probe Mysteries of Teotihuacan

Pyramid of the Sun in ancient Teotihuacan

Mystery surrounds the ancient city of Teotihuacan, and archaeologists are hoping to find some answers when later this month they explore a 295-foot-long tunnel beneath the Pyramid of the Sun – the third-largest pyramid in the world – some 25 miles northeast of Mexico City.

Teotihuacan was at its peak between 150 BC. and 450 AD, with an estimated 200,000 residents, making it then the largest city in the Americas, larger than Rome and likely the largest city in the world during that age. Yet experts are uncertain as to who built it and why it was suddenly abandoned around 700 AD. For years, archaeologists thought the city was of Toltec origin, but have since determined that the Toltec civilization came later, as did the Aztecs who believed Teotihuacan was a divine city. Sometime during the 7th or 8th Century, Teotihuacan was set aflame and abandoned. Again, the reason remains a mystery.

The 8-foot-high tunnel lies 20 feet below the pyramid. Its sealed entrance was discovered in 1971 while workmen were installing a sound-and-light show for the pyramid. The tunnel also leads to caves beneath the pyramid, which is 738 feet wide. The Pyramid of the Sun is part of a huge complex of Teotihuacan ruins, many of which continue to pose many questions. Some experts believe the city contains highly sophisticated astronomical elements resembling those of the Egyptian culture of the time. 

“We want to find out why the Teotihuacan people sealed it and when,” said Alejandro Sarabia, director of archaeology at Teotihuacan and leader of the team of Mexican, American, and Japanese experts who will be exploring the tunnel, beginning at the end of July. “If we can find out what happened, when, and perhaps how, it will give us a better idea about the history of the Pyramid of the Sun and of the city in general.”

For the complete London Telegraph article, click here.

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