Mexican Pyramids at Teotihuacan

One of the sights well worth seeing if you have are fortunate enough to visit Mexico, rather than heading straight to its beach resorts, is Teotihuacan. Thirty miles from Mexico city, this ancient city existed from roughly 100 B.C.E. to 550 C.E.. It was one of the most influential cities in Mesoamerica, with a population of nearly 200,000 at its peak. In this city, there are two famous pyramids. This first one, the Pyramid of the Sun, is one of the largest pyramids within Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America.) It is believed to have been built around 200 C.E.

Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico

No one knows for sure the purpose of the pyramid. However, in 2013, workers discovered a covered pit beneath the platform that forms the pyramid’s summit. Within the pit were two pillars and what was described as a figure of the god Huehueteotl, a deity who was worshipped in several Mesoamerican civilizations. So perhaps it was a giant temple to honor one of their Gods. Huehueteotl is the God of Fire and he was believed to be the creator of all life. Excavations done in 1971 revealed “a tunnel-like cave under the pyramid, ending in a cloverleaf-shaped set of chambers, apparently the scene of numerous ancient fire and water rituals,” according to a Metropolitan Museum of Art article about the structure.

This religious structure is 216 feet (66 meters) high and is as impressive, although not as ornate, as the Catholic Church located in Mexico City. In addition to this pyramid, there is a pyramid of the Moon at the northern end of the so-called “Street of the Dead.” This is the second largest pyramid with Mesoamerica. According to the MET article I mentioned earlier, “recent excavations near the base of the (moon) pyramid staircase have uncovered the tomb of a male skeleton with numerous grave goods of obsidian and greenstone, as well as sacrificial animals.” Like with the Pyramid of the Moon, tourists aren’t allowed to climb on this ancient structure.

Close up of the Pyramid of the Moon, with one of many hot-air balloons in the area flying above it.

Avenue of the Dead, with the Sun Pyramid straight ahead and the Moon Pyramid off to the right.

Temple of the Feathered Serpent. This is within walking distance of the two pyramids and you can climb up the steps of this structure to view the part of the temple that is photographed here.

The Temple of the Feathered Serpent is said to date from the 3rd Century AD. It was called the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl until recently. Beneath this structure are tunnels and caves as well. Supposedly, this tunnel contains references to the cosmos, with “hundreds of clay spheres covered in golden pyrite littering the floor and metallic dust rubbed on the walls.”

A web site called uncovered history gives more detail about this temple and other sights at Teotihuacan. What it said about what is underneath this temple was so fascinating I am quoting it verbatim: “The combined effect resembles a passage-way through space when illuminated by torchlight. Discoveries are still being made by archaeologists with the assistance of a small robot named Tlaloc II, but thus far there is no evidence that either the tunnel or the three caves located at its end were used or designed for elite burials as had once been thought. Instead, it appears the tunnel and cave network was a shrine to the cosmos and the gods of  creation. Caves themselves are though to have been the place where gods were born, and it is possible that the Teotihuacan elite used the caves beneath the Temple of Quetzalcoatl to give birth, with the newborn baby being carried through the starry tunnel and out into the world, as though they were being born from a cosmic womb or descending from the heavens. Wow, that would have been something to see!

So maybe you won’t get to see a newborn baby been carried out of the tunnel as if it descended from the heavens when you are there, but going to Teotihuacan to see the impressive structures that are there is well worth your time and effort!


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