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Monolith Part of Teotihuacan Sun Pyramid to be Exhibited for the First Time
The 51 centimeters tall figure was also manufactured in andesite, a rock that is not natural to the region, “but the cut and style is from Teotihuacan. Photo: DMC INAH/M. Tapia.

MEXICO CITY.- A monolith that represents a yet unknown deity that during the first 2 centuries of our era was part of the Sun Pyramid, in the Prehispanic city of Teotihuacan, will be exhibited for the first time in Six Ancient Cities of Mesoamerica. Society and Environment to be opened at the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA) in Mexico City.

Jointly with this piece, discovered in 2007, will be presented the most complete sculpture found until now of Huehueteotl, deity of fire, informed archaeologist Alejandro Sarabia, curator of the hall dedicated to Teotihuacan at the great exhibition that will gather more than 400 Prehispanic pieces representing the development of this ancient city, as well as Monte Alban, El Tajin, Palenque, Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco.

Teotihuacan pieces recently found were discovered during different explorations at the Moon Pyramid and archaeological salvages at the town of San Juan Teotihuacan, in Estado de Mexico.

The director of the archaeological site remarked that the monolith made out of gray andesite “is unique because it depicts a yet unidentified deity in Teotihuacan iconography. It conserves stucco and pigments, mainly red, representing an odd case regarding other carved stone in the site”.

Sarabia declared that this sculpture was located in December 2007 in a platform that surrounds the southwestern corner of the Sun Pyramid; after its discovery, it underwent a long conservation process (at the restoration area of the archaeological site), with the aim of fixing the pigments.

“The monolith is 98 centimeters high, 106 wide and 93 deep; it dates from an early stage in the history of Teotihuacan, between centuries 1 and 2 of the Common Era; it must have been used as an architectural element of the Sun Pyramid, and then it was dismantled with more sculptures, to be part of the offering at another building attached to it.

“Until now, we have identified the monolith with a terrestrial or underworld deity, similar to the Olmeca divinity of the earth, because among its elements outstand huge eyes and a jawless mouth that resembles a cave. Most commonly gods represented in Teotihuacan, murals, sculptures or ceramics were Quetzalcoatl, deity of rain and storm, and Huehueteotl, the divinity of fire”.

The INAH researcher commented that in the hall dedicated to Teotihuacan, at the exhibition Six Ancient Cities of Mesoamerica, the central piece will be the sculpture of Huehueteotl: “this representation is the biggest and less damaged found until now; it was discovered in 2001 as part of an archaeological salvage at San Juan Teotihuacan.

The 51 centimeters tall figure was also manufactured in andesite, a rock that is not natural to the region, “but the cut and style is from Teotihuacan; it was found with other 2 small sculptures of the same deity, which were destroyed”, mentioned Sarabia.

Huehueteotl is represented carrying a huge brazier with symbols that mark the Universe directions. This Teotihuacan deity is represented in a standard way: although others have been found in different sizes and material, they all have the same position and form, sitting with his legs crossed.

The director of Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone mentioned that other piece to be exhibited at the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA) is a smooth stele manufactured in greenstone between the 5th and 6th centuries, discovered in 2001 between the Roadway of the Dead and the Sun Pyramid.

“Generally, the stelae were inlayed in the floor, in a temple, in front of an important building or in the middle of a yard. We do not know the function they had, but regularly they were used to commemorate activities of the group in power”.

According to archaeologist Sarabia, the section dedicated to Teotihuacan is designed to help visitors deepen into the knowledge of this ancient civilization that began its history near the 1st and 2nd centuries BC, and grew quickly; “from agricultural settlements to a great city where 40,000 persons dwelled in the first century, the greatest concentration of people in America at the time”.

Among factors that allowed population density at Teotihuacan, stand out the arrival of different groups from the Basin of Mexico. “It was the greatest city of the Americas in the Prehispanic age, and it extended over 22.5 kilometers; the ceremonial center is 2 kilometers long, and monumentality is the main feature of the city part of the Mesoamerican civilizations show”, concluded Sarabia.

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