Mexico earthquake leads to discovery of ancient temple

The Aztec temple was found within a pyramid in south-central Mexico

Image The Aztec temple was found within a pyramid in south-central Mexico

Last September's second major natural disaster caused widespread damage in central Mexico and claimed hundreds of lives but it also helped to reveal a tightly-held archaeological secret in the state of Morelos.

The researchers were equally surprised to find out that the temple hints at the site being much older than previously thought.

Archaeologists say damage to a pre-Hispanic pyramid in central Mexico from the September 19 quake has revealed an older structure that was covered by later building.

To assess the damage, a team from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) built two shafts: One in the Temple of Tlaloc, the god of rain, and another between this temple and the Temple of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war.

"In spite of what the quake meant, it is necessary to be thankful that this natural phenomenon revealed this important structure", Isabel Campos Goenaga, director of the INAH Morelos Center, said in at a press conference [translated via Google].

The substructure of the older pyramid reportedly lies below this temple.

To build temples on top of existing ones was a custom of the Mesoamerican people, she added.

'It is not that the Mexicas have contributed this architectural style to this region, on the contrary, the Tlahuica constructions inspired them to build the Templo Mayor, ' said Barbara Konieczna, who led the dig. "What we found could correspond to Teopanzolco's oldest temple".

Pre-Hispanic cultures often built one temple over another.

The temple dates back further than the pyramid, which was built sometime between 1200 and the Spanish conquest in 1521.

View of the substructure inside the Teopanzolco pyramid in Cuernavaca, Morelos State, Mexico on July 11.

The archaeologists also recovered ceramic artifacts and a censer featuring Tlahuica motifs as well as a significant amount of charcoal that could have been left over from either rituals carried out at the temple or from a disaster.

"The pyramid suffered considerable rearrangement of the core of its structure", Ms Koniecza said.

Archaeologists at work at the pyramid in Morelos.

Fragments found inside the pyramid.

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