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Archaeologists Discover Remains of Ancient Aztec Ball Court in Heart of Mexico City

The discoveries were made on a nondescript side street just behind the city's colonial-era Roman Catholic cathedral off the main Zocalo plaza on the grounds of a 1950s-era hotel

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Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History, speaks to the media about new Aztec discoveries including the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, as well as an adjacent ritual ball court, located just off the Zocalo plaza in Mexico City, Mexico
Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History, speaks to the media about new Aztec discoveries including the main temple of the wind god Ehecatl, a major deity, as well as an adjacent ritual ball court, located just off the Zocalo plaza in Mexico City, Mexico, June 7, 2017. VOA
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  • The underground excavations reveal a section of what was the foundation of a massive, circular-shaped temple dedicated to the Aztec wind god Ehecatl
  • Archaeologists also detailed a grisly offering of 32 severed male neck vertebrae discovered in a pile just off the court
  • Aztec archaeologist Eduardo Matos said the top of the temple was likely built to resemble a coiled snake, with priests entering though a doorway made to look like a serpent’s nose

Mexico City, June 20, 2017: The remains of a major Aztec temple and a ceremonial ball court have been discovered in downtown Mexico City, shedding new light on the sacred spaces of the metropolis that Spanish conquerors overran five centuries ago, archaeologists said on Wednesday.

The discoveries were made on a nondescript side street just behind the city’s colonial-era Roman Catholic cathedral of the main Zocalo plaza on the grounds of a 1950s-era hotel.

The underground excavations reveal a section of what was the foundation of a massive, circular-shaped temple dedicated to the Aztec wind god Ehecatl and a smaller part of a ritual ball court, confirming accounts of the first Spanish chroniclers to visit the Aztec imperial capital, Tenochtitlan.

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“Due to finds like these, we can show actual locations, the positioning and dimensions of each one of the structures first described in the chronicles,” said Diego Prieto, head of Mexico’s main anthropology and history institute.

Archaeologists also detailed a grisly offering of 32 severed male neck vertebrae discovered in a pile just off the court.

“It was an offering associated with the ball game, just off the stairway,” said archaeologist Raul Barrera. “The vertebrae, or necks, surely came from victims who were sacrificed or decapitated.”

Some of the original white stucco remains visible on parts of the temple, built during the 1486-1502 reign of Aztec Emperor Ahuizotl, predecessor of Moctezuma, who conquistador Hernan Cortes toppled during the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

A model of the major structures of the ceremonial precinct of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, including the temple to the wind god and ball court
A model of the major structures of the ceremonial precinct of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, including the temple to the wind god and ball court, as seen outside the ruins of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico, June 7, 2017. VOA

Early Spanish accounts relate how a young Moctezuma played against an elderly allied king on the court and lost, which was taken as sign that the Aztec Empire’s days were numbered.

The building would have stood out because of its round shape among the several dozen other square temples that dominated the Aztecs’ most sacred ceremonial space before the 1521 conquest.

Aztec archaeologist Eduardo Matos said the top of the temple was likely built to resemble a coiled snake, with priests entering though a doorway made to look like a serpent’s nose.

Once excavations finish, a museum will be built on the site, rubbing shoulders with modern buildings in the capital.

Mexico City, including its many colonial-era structures with their own protections, was built above the razed ruins of the Aztec capital, and more discoveries are likely, Matos said.

“We’ve been working this area for nearly 40 years, and there’s always construction of some kind … and so we take advantage of that and get involved,” he said. (VOA)

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Over 200 Killed As 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Mexico City

The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985

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EARTHQUAKE
People evacuated from office buildings gather in Reforma Avenue after an earthquake in Mexico City, Sept. 19, 2017. VOA

Mexico, September 20, 2017 :  A powerful earthquake of 7.1 magnitude struck Mexico city, leaving more than 200 people dead and many trapped under the collapsed buildings. At about 2.15 p.m. (local time) on Tuesday, the earthquake shook central Mexico, its epicenter was 4.5 km east-northeast of San Juan Raboso and 55 km south-southwest of the city of Puebla, in Puebla state.

“We are facing a new national emergency,” said Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, in his first televised address following the earthquake.

The earthquake was felt far and wide. In Mexico City, there were power outages and more than 40 buildings collapsed crushing cars and trapping people inside.

Dozens of buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of nearby states also.

Thousands of soldiers, rescuers and civilians — including college students — in Mexico City clawed through the rubble with picks, shovels and their bare hands. Windows buckled and shattered, falling several stories to the ground while thousands of people streamed into the streets running away from buildings and potential gas leaks.

People struggled to get home when power poles that toppled in the quake blocked the streets and the public transportation system temporarily shut down operations. Nearly 5 million customers were still without power early Wednesday.

The earthquake came less than two weeks after a massive 8.1-magnitude quake hit the country on September 7 and killed nearly 100.

The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Just hours before the quake hit, many people took part in drills and commemorative events.

All public and private schools in Mexico City and some of the states affected by the earthquake will remain closed until further notice, Education Minister Aurelio Nuño tweeted.

Foreign leaders sent messages of support to Mexico. US President Donald Trump, who has courted controversy with his plans for a border wall with Mexico, tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted his support following the “devastating news”.

 

(IANS)