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Circular Base Found Corresponds to Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl Temple Location

MEXICO CITY.- Rests of a circular-based temple that according to the reconstructive map of Mexica ceremonial center in Tenochtitlan, could be the most important dedicated to Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, were discovered by National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) specialists in a plot located at the back of Metropolitan Cathedral.

“Due to its location and nearness to Templo Mayor, it coincides with the representation made by archaeologist and architect Ignacio Marquina in 1960.

“Relevance of the finding consists in confirmation by archaeological information of historical data regarding the sacred precinct of Mexico –Tenochtitlan, which occupied nearly 500 square meters”, mentioned Raul Barrera Rodriguez, in charge of the INAH Program of Urban Archaeology (PAU).

The discovery took place in the plot located at 16 of Guatemala Street, in Mexico City Historical Center, after 2 months of archaeological work. Vestiges of a 2-bodied Prehispanic platform that must have measured nearly 32 meters long, and an attached circular temple with a diameter of 14 meters were found.

Two constructive stages of the structure were uncovered; architectural features locate the earliest in the 6th stage of Templo Mayor (1486-1502 AD), during Ahuizotl government, when Mexica Empire reached its peak. The newer floors correspond to the 7th stage, at the time when Spaniards arrived.

“The excavation points out to the structure being nearer Templo Mayor than in Marquina model, but in general terms, archaeological data coincides with the reconstructive draft”, mentioned Barrera.

The archaeologist remarked that vestiges represent one of the most important structures of Tenochtitlan ceremonial center; apparently, this Prehispanic base faced Templo Mayor, specifically, towards Tlaloc shrine.

It makes sense, he continued, if we consider that Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl was the Mexica deity of wind, an element that precedes rain, represented by Tlaloc, divinity of water and lightning.

This is why the pyramid dedicated to Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, known as “House of the Wind”, had a particular shape: the façade had a quadrangular form, and the back, was a circular-based structure that supported a cylindrical temple covered with a thatched roof that formed a cone.

According to Conquerors narrations, this temple was decorated with the figure of a feathered serpent which open jaws were the access to the interior.

“In spite of the existence of several temples and altars dedicated to Ehecatl in Tenochtitlan sacred precinct, as the one located in Pino Suarez Metro (Collective Transport System) station, and the rests of other found under Metropolitan Cathedral, the one recently discovered must have been the most important”, declared Barrera.

Archaeological salvage at Edificio Escalerillas (former name of Guatemala Street) began after the owner’s announcement of beginning civil work. Fragments of Mexica sculptures reused in mid 16th century to construct Colonial houses, specifically the residence of Juan Engel, one of the first founders of the New Spain, were also found.

Sculpture fragments correspond to the bottom of a Miquixtli (a Mexica death deity) representation, specifically her skirt of skulls. This piece has carved in the base an image of Tlaltecuhtli (Earth deity) with a quincuncial hieroglyph which points out the 5 directions of the Universe. Other stones were part of a cactus–shaped merlon and the foot of an anthropomorphic sculpture.

Archaeologist Israel Fuentes Martinez, in charge of ceramic material analysis, explained that New Spain pots were found, as well as Chinese porcelain and maiolica.

Under the Colonial ceramic layers, rests of Prehispanic floors were located, as well as Red Texcoco earthenware fragments, censers and plates from periods Aztec III (cultural peak), IV and V (corresponding to Mexica decadence and European contact).

Raul Barrera expressed that PAU opportune intervention will allow defining the features of the civil work project to be conducted at 16 Guatemala Street, after handing over the complete report of salvage to INAH Archaeology Council.

The area of action of Urban Archaeology Program covers a nearly 500 square meters quadrangle, space that calculations point out was occupied by Tenochtitlan sacred precinct.

Mexico | National Institute of Anthropology and History | Templo Mayor |

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