Sun, Oct 09, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Aztec platform discovered

AP, MEXICO CITY

Archeologists found a round Aztec ceremonial platform studded with stone carvings of serpent heads at Mexico City’s Templo Mayor ruin, raising hopes in the search for an emperor’s tomb, authorities said on Thursday.

No Aztec ruler’s tomb has ever been located and researchers have been on a five-year quest to find a royal tomb in the area of the Templo Mayor, a complex of two huge pyramids and numerous smaller structures that contained the ceremonial and spiritual heart of the pre-Hispanic Aztec empire.

Mexico’s National Institute of History and Anthropology said the stone platform is about 15m in diameter and was probably built about 1469 AD.

The site lies in downtown Mexico City, which was built by Spanish conquerors atop the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.

“The historical records say that the rulers were cremated at the foot of the Templo Mayor, and it is believed to be on this same structure — the cuauhxicalco — that the rulers were cremated,” archeologist Raul Barrera said.

He said the platform, which is still being unearthed, was gradually uncovered over the preceding months. It is covered with at least 19 serpent heads, each about a 0.5m long.

Barrera said accounts from the 1500s suggested the platform was also used in a colorful ceremony in which an Aztec priest would descend from the nearby pyramid with a snake made of paper and burn it on the platform.

Records indicate there were a total of five such platforms in the temple complex. One was found several years ago, but that platform was farther from the ritually important spot at the foot of the pyramid, where the most recent finding was made.

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