At the mention at the end of today’s class on the ongoing archaeological discoveries at the site of Teotihuacan in Mexico, I searched up the location as I was interested in anything from this year had come up at the location. Astoundingly, just a few days ago archaeologists at the location have made a major discovery at Teotihuacan. An archaeological team has discovered liquid mercury underneath one of the pyramids there, which could indicate the presence of a royal tomb for one of the lords of the city.
In fact the temple it was discovered in was the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, the same one Dr. Watrall mentioned in class. This was a terrifically coincidental intersection of course material and recent discovery to me. The presence of liquid mercury means many things related to the presence of a royal tomb. Liquid mercury was of no practical purpose to Mesoamericans, but may have had religious significance as it symbolized a mirror to the supernatural world, and a path to the underworld river, which the royalty of these states would then value greatly as a sign of religious power and significance. Since liquid mercury has been found in other sites in Central America related to ancient royalty there, this shows a trend in the apparent value liquid mercury had on Mesoamerican peoples. It is the hope of the archaeologists then that the appearance of liquid mercury in Teotihuacan could lead to a royal tomb through careful survey.
The expedition told that the Mesoamericans could forge liquid mercury through the heating of mercury ore known as cinnabar. Cinnabar was used by the Maya to color pottery and the bodies of their royalty for example. As of now scientists have not found examples of it being used on the royalty of the city of Teotihuacan, but the hope that this may lead to royalty is there. The possibility of a royal tomb in the city could shed innumerable light on how the city was ruled, the style of government compared to other Central American cities of their time, and the dynastic traditions of the city. The lack of palace or royal murals throughout the city shows a lack of focus on the royalty the city may have held, so this theoretical tomb could mean many things. As of this writing the excavation and careful examination of the pyramid is still ongoing, and I am excited to see what they dig up. This news personally really brings the ongoing archaeological discoveries going on in the world to light, and relates how archaeology is an ongoing process that much more to me.