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River of Mercury in Underworld of Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl may lead to Royal Tomb

River of Mercury in Underworld of Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl may lead to Royal Tomb

Archaeologists believe that a recent discovery of liquid mercury in a subterranean tunnel beneath the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan, Mexico, may represent an underworld river that leads the way to a Royal tomb or tombs. The remains of the kings of Teotihuacan, some of the most powerful rulers of the pre-Hispanic world, have never been found. Such a discovery would be monumental as it would unravel many of the mysteries surrounding this ancient civilization.

The ancient city of Teotihuacan, which is located about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico city, flourished between 100 BC and 750 AD and is one of the largest and most important sacred cities of ancient Mesoamerica, whose name means "the city of the gods" in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. It once supported an estimated population of 100,000 – 200,000 people, who raised giant monuments such as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. However, much about Teotihuacan remains unknown, including the origin of the people who lived there, as they did not leave behind any written records.

  • Wireless Robot discovers three chamber in Teotihuacan
  • The Temple of the Feathered Serpent and the gold-colored spheres

The entrance to an 1,800-year-old tunnel beneath the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, the third largest pyramid at Teotihuacan, was first discovered in 2003, and an extensive project involving both human researchers and remote-control robots, has been ongoing ever since. Only recently have Mexican archaeologists announced the results of a years-long exploration of the underground tunnel, including the discovery of three chambers and thousands of artifacts, including: jade statues, jaguar remains, and a box filled with carved shells and rubber balls. Now researchers have also announced the presence of a large quantity of liquid mercury.

Temple of the Feathered Serpent. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Mexican researcher Sergio Gómez, who has been working on the excavations of the underground tunnel, told Reuters that the liquid mercury may have been placed there to symbolize an underworld river or lake, and could be a sign that the team is drawing closer to unearthing the first royal tomb ever found in Teotihuacan and unravelling centuries of mystery surrounding the leadership of the once powerful city.

“The Tunnel is the metaphorical representation of the conception of the underworld,” said Gomez. A large offering found near the entrance to the three chambers, suggests they could be the tombs of the city's elite. “Due to the magnitude of the offerings that we’ve found, it [royal tombs] can’t be in any other place,” added Gomez.

A graphic which shows the tunnel that may lead to a royal tombs discovered underneath the Quetzalcoatl temple in the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Photograph: Handout via Reuters

Rosemary Joyce, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, told The Guardian that Mesoamericans could create liquid mercury by heading mercury ore, known as cinnabar. They used it to decorate jade objects and color the bodies of their royalty. Traces of mercury have been found at three other sites, two Maya and one Olmec, around Central America, but none in such large quantities as that discovered beneath the Temple of the Feathered Serpent.

The research team are continuing to excavate along the subterranean corridor beneath the pyramid, equipped with protective gear to guard against the dangers of mercury exposure. They expect excavations to conclude by October, with announcement of findings by the end of 2015.

Featured image: Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan and Underground Sketch Compilation.


    Liquid mercury found under Mexican pyramid could lead to king’s tomb

    An archaeologist has discovered liquid mercury at the end of a tunnel beneath a Mexican pyramid, a finding that could suggest the existence of a king’s tomb or a ritual chamber far below one of the most ancient cities of the Americas.

    Mexican researcher Sergio Gómez announced on Friday that he had discovered “large quantities” of liquid mercury in a chamber below the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, the third largest pyramid of Teotihuacan, the ruined city in central Mexico.

    Gómez has spent six years slowly excavating the tunnel, which was unsealed in 2003 after 1,800 years. Last November, Gómez and a team announced they had found three chambers at the tunnel’s 300ft end, almost 60ft below the temple. Near the entrance of the chambers, they found a trove of strange artifacts: jade statues, jaguar remains, a box filled with carved shells and rubber balls.

    Archaeologists work at a tunnel that may lead to royal tombs at the ancient city of Teotihuacan, in this May 2011 photo. Photograph: Handout/Reuters

    Slowly working their way down the broad, dark and deep corridor beneath the pyramid, battling humidity and now obliged to wear protective gear against the dangers of mercury poisoning, Gómez and his team are meticulously exploring the three chambers.

    Mercury is toxic and capable of devastating the human body through prolonged exposure the liquid metal had no apparent practical purpose for ancient Mesoamericans. But it has been discovered at other sites. Rosemary Joyce, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, said that archaeologists have found mercury at three other sites around Central America.

    Gómez speculated that the mercury could be a sign that his team is close to uncovering the first royal tomb ever found in Teotihuacan after decades of excavation – and centuries of mystery surrounding the leadership of the cryptic but well-preserved city.

    The mercury may have symbolized an underworld river or lake, Gómez postulated, an idea that resonated with Annabeth Headreck, a professor at the University of Denver and the author of works on Teotihuacan and Mesoamerican art.

    The shimmering, reflective qualities of liquid mercury may have resembled “an underworld river, not that different from the river Styx,” Headrick said, “if only in the concept that it’s the entrance to the supernatural world and the entrance to the underworld.”

    “Mirrors were considered a way to look into the supernatural world, they were a way to divine what might happen in the future,” she said. “It could be a sort of river, albeit a pretty spectacular one.”

    Joyce said that archaeologists know that scintillation fascinated the ancient people generally, and that the liquid mercury may have been regarded as “somewhat magical … there for ritual purposes or symbolic purposes.”

    Headrick said that mercury was not the only object of fascination: “a lot of ritual objects were made reflective with mica,” a sparkling mineral likely imported to the region.

    In 2013 archaeologists using a robot found metallic spheres which they dubbed “disco balls” in an un-excavated portion of the tunnel, near pyrite mirrors. “I wish I could understand all the things these guys are finding down there,” Headrick said, “but it’s unique and that’s why it’s hard.”

    Water was also precious to many of the people of Mesoamerica, who knew of underground water systems and lakes that could be accessed through caves. Teotihuacan once had springs as well, though they are now dried out.

    Joyce said the ancient Mesoamericans could produce liquid mercury by heating mercury ore, known as cinnabar, which they also used for its blood-red pigment. The Maya used cinnabar to decorate jade objects and color the bodies of their royalty, for instance the people of Teotihuacan – for whom archaeologists have not agreed on a name – have not left any obvious royal remains for study.

    An undated graphic shows the tunnel that may lead to a royal tomb discovered underneath the Quetzalcoatl temple in the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Photograph: Handout/Reuters

    The discovery of a tomb could help solve the enigma of how Teotihuacan was ruled, and Joyce said that the concentration of artifacts outside the tunnel chambers could be associated with a tomb – or a set of ritual chambers.

    A royal tomb could lend credence to the theory that the city, which flourished between 100-700AD, was ruled by dynasties in the manner of the Maya, though with far less obvious flair for self-glorification.

    But a royal tomb could also hold the remains of a lord, which may fit with a competing idea about the city. Linda Manzanilla, a Mexican archaeologist acclaimed by many of her peers, contends that the city was governed by four co-rulers and notes that the city lacks a palace or apparent depiction of kings on its many murals. The excavation by Gomez my find one of those co-rulers, under this hypothesis.

    Headrick suggested yet more fluid models, in which strong lineages or clans traded rule but never cemented into dynasties, or in which the rulers relied on agreements with the military to maintain power, and authority was vested more in an office than a family. Ancient Teotihuacan was a city with familiar factions vying for influence: the elite, the military, the merchants, the priests and the people.

    For now, the archaeologists and anthropologists continue digging and deducing. Gomez says he hopes excavation of the chambers to be complete by October, and Headrick said that archeologists are looking at the city from new angles. Some are trying to decipher the paintings and hieroglyphics around the city, others trying to parse what may be a writing system without verbs or syntax.

    Then there are the thousands of artifacts, some unprecedented and bizarre, that Gomez and his fellows are disinterring from beneath the pyramid. “It’s quite the mystery,” Headrick said. “It’s fun.”


    River of Mercury in Underworld of Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl may lead to Royal Tomb - History

    Published time: April 25, 2015 11:28 RT.com

    Tunnel that may lead to a royal tombs discovered underneath the Quetzalcoatl temple in the ancient city of Teotihuacan (Reuters / INAH / Files / Handout via Reuters)

    An archaeologist has made the startling discovery of liquid mercury beneath an ancient pyramid in Mexico, which predates the Aztecs. This could mean the presence of a royal tomb right below one of the most cryptic cities in the Americas.

    Local researcher Sergio Gomez announced the discovery on Friday of “large quantities” of the element underneath the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent – the third largest in the ancient ruined city of Teotihuacan, which is shrouded in mystery and was once one of the largest in the hemisphere.

    “It’s something that completely surprised us,” he told Reuters, standing at the entrance to the ancient pyramid, located about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico City.

    What makes the find more exciting is the city itself, believed to come from the same period as the great Mayan city-states, but even less explored – even its inhabitants have no name, and there used to be 200,000 of them, living amongst gargantuan stone pyramids some 1,300 to 1,900 years ago.

    Stone figurines are seen in a tunnel that may lead to a royal tombs discovered at the ancient city of Teotihuacan (Reuters / INAH / Handout via Reuters)

    Six years of work paid off when Gomez and colleagues managed to dig their way into an ancient tunnel discovered in 2003 that lay sealed all this time, closed off by the locals themselves. But it was only last year, after gathering substantial resources to carry out research at the highest level that the archeologist announced the discovery of three chambers almost 12 meters (39 feet) below the temple. Immediately they found objects of symbolic value – jade statues, jaguar remains and various hand-carved objects.

    National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) archaeologists work at a tunnel that may lead to a royal tombs discovered at the ancient city of Teotihuacan (Reuters / INAH / Files / Handout via Reuters)

    The presence of the highly toxic, odorless liquid metal is peculiar, as ancient Americans had no use for it, but it was also discovered at three other ancient sites by a Berkley anthropologist – never in Teotihuacan. Gomez believes this signals the presence of a tomb.

    If that’s true, this is the first tomb found in Teotihuacan, following decades of exploration.

    His view is shared by some in the archeologist community, who believe mercury might have been used to symbolize an underground river. Mercury’s sleek look and reflectivity must have lent to its ritualistic use.

    “But it’s still very uncertain, and that is what keeps everybody in suspense,” another archaeologist, Geoerge Cowgill, told Reuters. He’s been digging in the ancient city for four decades now.

    Visitors look on at the archaeological area of the Quetzalcoatl Temple near the Pyramid of the Sun at the Teotihuacan archaeological site, about 60 km (37 miles) north of Mexico City (Reuters / Henry Romero)

    Now Gomez and team are painstakingly exploring the three chambers, deep in the dank and humid corridors, wearing protective gear to shield themselves from mercury poisoning. Anytime now, Gomez expects to come across the elusive dead king.

    Mexican city-states are mysterious because little is known about how they lived, governed, or even how that governance had led them all to collapse onto themselves. Discovering a royal tomb in Teotihuacan would provide a major piece to that puzzle.

    Vessels are seen in a tunnel that may lead to a royal tombs discovered at the ancient city of Teotihuacan (Reuters / INAH / Handout via Reuters)

    The city’s name is translated as ‘abode of the gods’ from the Aztec language Nahuatl. Adding to its mysterious allure is the fact that, compared to the Mayans, this city-state left no written record. All that is known is it was different from the Mayans in a number of ways. But our knowledge only picks up somewhat after the 14th century, when the Aztecs came. Teotihuacan had been abandoned by its inhabitants long before then.

    One possible clue to the city’s past may have been given by Mexican archeologist Linda Manzanilla, who believes that in its heyday Teotihuacan was ruled by four lords – not one king. Gomez’s find could be the remains of one of them.

    The Spaniards got there toward the end of the 17th century, but proper research of the highest order did not start till the 1950s.

    We should get more answers when Gomez wraps up the dig in October, with an announcement of results expected by December.


    The Whole Bushel

    About 50 kilometers (30 mi) from Mexico City, the ancient city of Teotihuacan thrived between 100 BC and AD 650, with a population of up to 200,000 people. The inhabitants built amazing structures, such as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (“feathered serpent”). Surprisingly, the city lacks military compounds, although it dominated the region from both a military and cultural standpoint in ancient times. According to archaeologist George Cowgill, it was the largest city in the Western Hemisphere until the 1400s and had thousands of residential areas and temples.

    Although there are different theories, no one knows with certainty who built the city or how it was ruled.

    It appears that Teotihuacan was home to diverse cultures such as the Zapotec, Maya, and Mixtec. Archaeologists, who’ve excavated only about 5 percent of the city, initially found evidence of a brutal culture that sacrificed both animals and humans, possibly as religious offerings to their gods. The reasons for the city’s collapse are as mysterious as its origins. But Cowgill believes the more relevant issue is what type of society was able to live here for so long.

    In the 14th century, the Aztecs named the abandoned city Teotihuacan, meaning “abode of the gods.” Without written records, we don’t know what the early inhabitants called themselves. However, modern excavation of the city only started in the 1950s, so we may yet find some information to answer our questions.

    Recent excavations are focusing on a 1,800-year-old tunnel complex under the Temple of Quetzalcoatl in the center of the city. In 2013, archaeologists discovered two chambers around the end of the tunnel that contained unusual crystal spheres and pyrite mirrors. Then the tunnel dropped down to a level where the ground was saturated with water, slowing the excavation.

    Nevertheless, in late 2014, scientists found three more chambers containing thousands of relics, including jade, rubber balls, carved statues, and a wooden box of carved shells. The chambers are about 18 meters (60 ft) beneath the ancient temple. Archaeologists didn’t find human bodies, but they suspect they may be close to a burial chamber. Realistically, the artifacts could be anything from funerary offerings to leftovers of a great feast.

    Recently, archaeologists found large amounts of liquid mercury in a chamber near the end of the tunnel. With its mirror-like quality, the toxic metal may represent an underworld lake or river with supernatural importance for ancient rituals. It also makes it more likely that archaeologists will find a tomb nearby, possibly of a king or lord who once ruled the city.

    “Mirrors were considered a way to look into the supernatural world, they were a way to divine what might happen in the future,” Annabeth Headrick, an expert on Teotihuacan and Mesoamerican art, told The Guardian. “It could be a sort of river, albeit a pretty spectacular one.”


    At the end of a tunnel below a Mexican pyramid, an archaeologist found liquid mercury, a discovery that might suggest the presence of a king’s tomb or a ritual chamber well below one of the most ancient cities in the Americas.

    Mexican researcher Sergio Gómez revealed on Friday that in a chamber below the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, the third largest pyramid of Teotihuacan, the ruined city in central Mexico, he had found ‘massive amounts of liquid mercury.

    Visitors look at the archaeological area of the Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) Temple near the Pyramid of the Sun at the Teotihuacan archaeological site, north of Mexico City.

    Gómez spent six years slowly digging the tunnel, which, after 1,800 years, was unsealed in 2003. Gómez and the team announced last November that they had found three chambers at the 300-foot end of the tunnel, almost 60-foot below the temple. They found a cache of unusual objects near the chambers’ entrance: jade statues, jaguar remains, a box filled with carved shells and rubber balls.

    Slowly working their way down the broad, dark and deep corridor beneath the pyramid, battling humidity and now obliged to wear protective gear against the dangers of mercury poisoning, Gómez and his team are meticulously exploring the three chambers.

    Mercury is toxic and capable of devastating the human body through prolonged exposure the liquid metal had no apparent practical purpose for ancient Mesoamericans. But it has been discovered at other sites. Rosemary Joyce, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, said that archaeologists have found mercury at three other sites around Central America.

    Gómez speculated that the mercury could be a sign that his team is close to uncovering the first royal tomb ever found in Teotihuacan after decades of excavation – and centuries of mystery surrounding the leadership of the cryptic but well-preserved city.

    The mercury may have symbolized an underworld river or lake, Gómez postulated, an idea that resonated with Annabeth Headreck, a professor at the University of Denver and the author of works on Teotihuacan and Mesoamerican art.

    The shimmering, reflective qualities of liquid mercury may have resembled “an underworld river, not that different from the river Styx,” Headrick said, “if only in the concept that it’s the entrance to the supernatural world and the entrance to the underworld.”

    “Mirrors were considered a way to look into the supernatural world, they were a way to divine what might happen in the future,” she said. “It could be a sort of river, albeit a pretty spectacular one.”

    Joyce said that archaeologists know that scintillation fascinated the ancient people generally, and that the liquid mercury may have been regarded as “somewhat magical … there for ritual purposes or symbolic purposes.”

    An undated graphic shows the tunnel that may lead to a royal tomb discovered underneath the Quetzalcoatl temple in the ancient city of Teotihuacan.

    Headrick said that mercury was not the only object of fascination: “a lot of ritual objects were made reflective with mica,” a sparkling mineral likely imported to the region.

    In 2013 archaeologists using a robot found metallic spheres which they dubbed “disco balls” in an un-excavated portion of the tunnel, near pyrite mirrors. “I wish I could understand all the things these guys are finding down there,” Headrick said, “but it’s unique and that’s why it’s hard.”

    Water was also precious to many of the people of Mesoamerica, who knew of underground water systems and lakes that could be accessed through caves. Teotihuacan once had springs as well, though they are now dried out.

    Joyce said the ancient Mesoamericans could produce liquid mercury by heating mercury ore, known as cinnabar, which they also used for its blood-red pigment. The Maya used cinnabar to decorate jade objects and color the bodies of their royalty, for instance the people of Teotihuacan – for whom archaeologists have not agreed on a name – have not left any obvious royal remains for study.

    The discovery of a tomb could help solve the enigma of how Teotihuacan was ruled, and Joyce said that the concentration of artifacts outside the tunnel chambers could be associated with a tomb – or a set of ritual chambers.

    A royal tomb could lend credence to the theory that the city, which flourished between 100-700AD, was ruled by dynasties in the manner of the Maya, though with far less obvious flair for self-glorification.

    But a royal tomb could also hold the remains of a lord, which may fit with a competing idea about the city. Linda Manzanilla, a Mexican archaeologist acclaimed by many of her peers, contends that the city was governed by four co-rulers and notes that the city lacks a palace or apparent depiction of kings on its many murals. The excavation by Gomez my find one of those co-rulers, under this hypothesis.

    Headrick suggested yet more fluid models, in which strong lineages or clans traded rule but never cemented into dynasties, or in which the rulers relied on agreements with the military to maintain power, and authority was vested more in an office than a family. Ancient Teotihuacan was a city with familiar factions vying for influence: the elite, the military, the merchants, the priests and the people.

    For now, the archaeologists and anthropologists continue digging and deducing. Gomez says he hopes excavation of the chambers to be complete by October, and Headrick said that archeologists are looking at the city from new angles. Some are trying to decipher the paintings and hieroglyphics around the city, others trying to parse what may be a writing system without verbs or syntax.

    Then there are the thousands of artifacts, some unprecedented and bizarre, that Gomez and his fellows are disinterring from beneath the pyramid. “It’s quite the mystery,” Headrick said. “It’s fun.”


    Researchers find liquid mercury under the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl in Teotihuacan

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    Large quantities of mercury found under ruins of Ancient Teotihuacan.

    Mexican archaeologist Sergio Gómez and his team have discovered liquid mercury at the end of the tunnel below the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, the third largest pyramid of Teotihuacan.

    As you enter the tunnel of the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl in Teotihuacan, the temperature drops as you descend through the tunnel, the moisture is notable in the inside and the wooden floor makes it possible to walk through the muddy ground. According to Mexican archaeologist Sergio Gómez, the builders wanted to recreate the outside world so they dug until they came in contact with water, mimicking the rivers of the outside.

    A view of Teotihuacan. Image Credit: Shutterstock.

    In the vicinity of the entrance, a mysteriously looking “fireplace” connects with the outside. Archaeologists speculate that this fireplace could have been used as some sort of observatory two millennia ago. The tunnel was discovered by chance when in 2003, the entire place was flooded during restoration works, allowing archaeologists to discover the mystical tunnel. GPR and laser testing gave the researchers an idea of the entire structure. A small robot was introduced to explore the cracks and provide further information to researchers. Similar exploration with the use of robots was done in Egypt, though on a much smaller scale.

    The goal of the exploration of the tunnel was to understand what the ancient builders wanted to hide so badly with walls up to 25 tons of Earth and rock. According to archaeologists, the ancient builders had opted the tunnel once in the past, probably to place something inside. Since then, the tunnel remained sealed for almost 2000 years. No one had entered or seen the interior of the tunnel.

    The tunnel’s ceiling was very interesting as it had traces of metal powder that reflects light in a curious patter, almost as if mimicking the night sky. In ancient times, when entering the tunnel with torches, the metal dust shined just like the stars. Researchers believe that these traces are pyrite or magnetite remains elements not found in the region of Teotihuacan. These metals were brought from somewhere else to paint the ceiling of the tunnel.

    150 meters below the temple of the Feathered Serpent, researchers discovered 50,000 mysterious objects, ranging from animal bones, batons to metal spheres. The descent through the tunnel resembles the entrance to a mine, but the surrounding objects and mysterious ceiling resemble the journey to the underworld, in an enigmatic city that flourished between II and V century AD, 50 kilometers northeast of Mexico City.

    Mexican archaeologist Sergio Gomez and his team, looking for a royal tomb in the deep, dark tunnel beneath the pyramid built before the Aztec empire discovered a clue that would bring him closer to their goal: discovering liquid mercury. During their search, the team led by Gomez discovered a large amount of silvered metal at the end of the sacred tunnel that remained sealed for 1800 years.

    Many researchers firmly believe that the toxic element could be a clue that will provide more insight about the tomb of the first ruler of Teotihuacan, home to a mysterious ancient civilization that predates the Aztecs, which still remains a mystery as researchers do not have a name for them.

    Speculations regarding traces of mercury have been countless. Gomez believes that the metal could have been used to represent a river or lake of the underworld, even though ancient astronaut theorists suggest that there could have been a more “technological use” to mercury.

    Traces of mercury have been previously found in small amounts in a couple of Maya sites farther south, but it has never been found in Teotihuacan until now.
    Mercury is an element very difficult to extract, appreciated for its refracting properties, it is used numerous appliances today. Mercury was uncommon in ancient Mexico and some researchers believe that its features could have given supernatural features to its rulers.

    What use could the ancient inhabitants of Teotihuacan have for Mercury and Mica?

    Mercury is a heavy, silvery-white metal. As compared to other metals, it is a poor conductor of heat, but a fair conductor of electricity. Mica is an excellent conductor of electricity. Mercury is the only elemental metal known to melt at a generally cold temperature.


    Liquid Mercury May Lead To Royal Tomb In Mysterious Pre-Aztec City

    A Mexican archaeologist, Sergio Gomez has discovered liquid mercury beneath an ancient, pre -Aztec pyramid called the ‘Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent’. This could indicate the presence of a royal tomb right below one of the most cryptic cities in the Americas.

    Gomez announced the discovery on Friday of large quantities of the element in a chamber at the end of a sacred tunnel that had been sealed for nearly 1,800 years, deep in the bowels of the mysterious ancient city of Teotihuacan.

    Because of the potential supernatural significance of liquid mercury in ritual ends, Gomez hopes that deeper into the complex he will find the last resting place of an ancient king.

    RT reports: What makes the find more exciting is the city itself, believed to come from the same period as the great Mayan city-states, but even less explored – even its inhabitants have no name, and there used to be 200,000 of them, living amongst gargantuan stone pyramids some 1,300 to 1,900 years ago.

    Six years of work paid off when Gomez and colleagues managed to dig their way into an ancient tunnel discovered in 2003 that lay sealed all this time, closed off by the locals themselves. But it was only last year, after gathering substantial resources to carry out research at the highest level that the archeologist announced the discovery of three chambers almost 12 meters (39 feet) below the temple. Immediately they found objects of symbolic value – jade statues, jaguar remains and various hand-carved objects.

    The presence of the highly toxic, odorless liquid metal is peculiar, as ancient Americans had no use for it, but it was also discovered at three other ancient sites by a Berkley anthropologist – never in Teotihuacan. Gomez believes this signals the presence of a tomb.

    If that’s true, this is the first tomb found in Teotihuacan, following decades of exploration.

    The city’s name is translated as ‘abode of the gods’ from the Aztec language Nahuatl. Adding to its mysterious allure is the fact that, compared to the Mayans, this city-state left no written record. All that is known is it was different from the Mayans in a number of ways. But our knowledge only picks up somewhat after the 14th century, when the Aztecs came. Teotihuacan had been abandoned by its inhabitants long before then.

    His view is shared by some in the archeologist community, who believe mercury might have been used to symbolize an underground river. Mercury’s sleek look and reflectivity must have lent to its ritualistic use.

    “But it’s still very uncertain, and that is what keeps everybody in suspense,” another archaeologist, Geoerge Cowgill, told Reuters. He’s been digging in the ancient city for four decades now.

    Now Gomez and team are painstakingly exploring the three chambers, deep in the dank and humid corridors, wearing protective gear to shield themselves from mercury poisoning. Anytime now, Gomez expects to come across the elusive dead king.

    Mexican city-states are mysterious because little is known about how they lived, governed, or even how that governance had led them all to collapse onto themselves. Discovering a royal tomb in Teotihuacan would provide a major piece to that puzzle.

    Visitors look on at the archaeological area of the Quetzalcoatl Temple near the Pyramid of the Sun at the Teotihuacan archaeological site


    Liquid mercury found inside Mexican pyramid could hold key to Teotihuacan's royal tomb

    After six years of pain-staking archeological work inside of Teotihuacan's famed Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent in Mexico, researchers have come across a curious discovery that may bring them one step closer to finding the pre-Aztec pyramid’s royal tomb.

    Beside the stone sculptures, fine jewelry and giant seashells, archeologist Sergio Gómez came across "large quantities" of liquid metal deep in the bowels of the temple complex at the end of a sacred tunnel sealed off to the world for nearly 1,800 years.

    "It's something that completely surprised us," Gomez said, according to Reuters.

    The discovery of the liquid metal has led some scientists to speculate that it marks part of the tomb of Teotihuacan's first ruler. Gomez says that the mercury may have been used to symbolize an underworld river or lake, but adds that this is just speculation as little is actually known about the society that inhabited the temple complex.

    Annabeth Headrick, a professor at the University of Denver and the author of works on Teotihuacan and Mesoamerican art, added that reflective qualities of liquid mercury may have resembled "an underworld river, not that different from the river Styx," Headrick said, “if only in the concept that it’s the entrance to the supernatural world and the entrance to the underworld."

    "Mirrors were considered a way to look into the supernatural world, they were a way to divine what might happen in the future," she said, according to the Guardian. "It could be a sort of river, albeit a pretty spectacular one."

    The inhabitants of Teotihuacan were contemporaries of several ancient Maya cities, but unlike their breather farther south little is known about them and scientists don’t even have a name for the group.

    Teotihuacan was a city of massive stone pyramids that was home to as many as 200,000 people and was the heart of an ancient empire that flourished between 100 and 700 A.D., but was abandoned long before the Aztecs came to power in the 14th century. Leaving no written record of their history, the society of Teotihuacan, or "abode of the gods" in the Aztec language of Nahuatl, is only known to be distinct from the Mayan civilization.

    At its peak, Teotihuacan is believed to have been ruled by not one king, but a council of four lords, said Mexican archeologist Linda Manzanilla, pointing to the lack of one single royal palace or existence of kings in any of the city's numerous murals.

    Work on the excavation of the temple has been a slow and arduous process slowed by humidity, mud and now the need for protective gear because of the liquid mercury.

    Still the discovery of the liquid metal has bolstered archaeologist’s hopes that they are close to finding a royal tomb.

    "But it's still very uncertain, and that is what keeps everybody in suspense," George Cowgill, a U.S. archeologist who has worked for over four decades at Teotihuacan.

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    Liquid Mercury Found Under Pyramid at Teotihuacan

    After 10 years of research, archaeologists have stumbled upon an unexpected clue to one of the biggest discoveries ever made at the archaeological site of Teotihuacan.

    Some months ago Mexico News Network covered the discovery of a 100m long tunnel under the pyramid of the Feathered Serpent. Since then, researchers have recently found “large quantities” of liquid mercury.

    It is believed that the mercury had been placed there on purpose. In fact, this metal has been found at three other archeological sites, mostly of the Maya culture. Researchers believe that it may have held ritual significance, perhaps to symbolize some sort of river to the underworld.

    Mexican researcher and head of the team, Sergio Gomez stated that this discovery may serve as a guide to what may very well be the first royal tomb to be found in Teotihuacan. Deep in the tunnel there are three chambers and some of them may be the final resting place of a monarch.

    Should this be the case, it may shed light on the largely unknown history of this civilization and its political society. At its peak of splendor – between 100 and 700 A.D. – Teotihuacan had a population of around 200,000.

    Quoted in El Universal, Mexican archeologist Linda Manzanilla pointed out that Teotihuacan was governed by a council of four “co-rulers”. This might explain the absence of a main palace or the depiction of monarchs on its murals. She also added that what Gomez may have found could be the remains of one of these ancient rulers.

    Teotihuacan lacks any written records which leaves little to work with in deciphering the city’s history prior to its abandonment, which is calculated to have taken place in the 7th or 8th century. Even the name “Teotihuacán” (náhuatl for “birthplace of the gods”) was given centuries after the collapse by Aztecs who found the ruins and believed the site to be a sacred place where the gods used to live.

    The city, dubbed the abode of the gods in the ancient language Nahuatl, was once the nucleus of an empire. About 200,000 people are thought to have lived there between 100 and 700 A.D., until its residents mysteriously hightailed it away. The city remained largely intact, but much is unknown about its people, how life flourished there and who was in the seat of power. Also unknown is whether power was passed down through a dynasty or if the ruler was an overlord.

    Due to thick humidity and mud in the area, few excavations have been attempted at the site. The Spaniards did so in the 17th century, but no real progress was made until the 20th century.

    Upon unsealing the tunnel in 2003, Gómez and his team dug up treasures including jaguar remains, enormous seashells, jade statues and rubber balls. The team in November 2014 discovered three chambers at the end of the tunnel, which had remained intact for about 1,800 years.

    For now, it’s unclear how the Mesoamericans living in Teotihuacan used the metal. But it’s also been found in other excavations throughout Central America, specifically in Mayan ruins farther south. Mercury, which is highly poisonous, was regarded as a rarity among Mesoamerican people, and may have borne ritualistic significance given its reflective properties.

    In an interview with Reuters, Gómez said the mercury, which may have been used to symbolize an underworld body of water, could possibly lead researchers on a path to a royal tomb long believed to sit underneath Teotihuacan. The speculation isn’t mercurial on their part: In Mesoamerican lore, reflective surfaces, such as mirrors, functioned as portals into both the future and as the river that they believed carries us all after death, something not unlike the Styx from Greek mythology.

    Much work remains to be in done digging out the tunnel, and with uncoding the hieroglyphics scattered throughout the city. But Gómez believes the team will complete its dig by October, and an announcement of the findings is expected later in 2015. U.S. archaeologist George Cowgill, who’s devoted his life to unearthing the site, said the mercury find is just the beginning. “It’s still very uncertain, and that is what keeps everybody in suspense,” he told Reuters.

    Mesoamerican lore believes that reflective surfaces, such as rivers, can be portals into supernatural realms and symbolize death, such as the river Styx from Greek mythology.


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