Ongoing Discoveries at Teotihuacan

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.

Liquid Mercury being poured carefully into a petri dish.

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.


2 thoughts on “Ongoing Discoveries at Teotihuacan

  1. That is quite the coincidence how we were just talking about this site and its continuous discoveries today. Even after years and years of excavation, this site has no end of knowledge on the past civilization. As you just discussed, they recently found evidence of liquid mercury, which can be traced into royal burials. This, along with other findings, does reflect the archaeological significance. Not only do these discoveries continue to shed light on the past, but they also shine light on the future. There are always going to be undiscovered things; even at this site. Although it has been discovered for years, there are still significant discoveries within the site that continue to contribute to our knowledge about societies. Like Ethan said today, there is more to be discovered. Archaeology is not an exhaustive study. The way I see it, as people unbury more and more things from the past, things from the present are being buried at the same time for future discoveries.
    As for the news you are reporting on, I think that is very intriguing. If they indeed find royalty within the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, it will be the first royal tomb they find at the site. With that being said, further investigation would definitely be at hand in its discovery. The remains of royalty or just the fact that there is a royal tomb can open doors to speculation. This could tell archaeologist what the society and hierarchy was like more precisely. I, too, am interested to hear about what this discovery will announce. It could range from anything to nothing!

  2. Its amazing that we can know so much about a site and still be missing such large parts of the story. It makes you wonder what else we don’t know, and if what we do know is complete or accurate. Continued research and excavation at sites like Teotihucan speak beyond archaeology, and about humanity as a whole and our ambition to know everything. We continue to research things which we think we know everything about, and continue to amaze ourselves by creating more and more detailed history.
    The discovery of liquid mercury at Teotihucan represents the possible presence of royalty, and influences our perception of the Mesoamerican culture, based on the importance of royalty incorporated into architecture and other artifacts. Like you said, the lack of royal architecture could suggest many different things. It could make Teotihucan a single outlier in regards to mesoamerican class/ranking systems, or it could simply mean that we haven’t yet discovered such architecture. The only way to find out, is to continue exploration of that site.

Comments are closed.