The discovery of a secret tunnel in Mexico may finally solve some mysteries of the ancient city of Teotihuacán.
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Running around 100 meters long and 15 meters deep, the underground passage led archaeologists to over 75,000 significant artifacts including pottery, rubber balls and evidence of a sacred ritual space.
A place that once served as a cosmopolitan centre of Mesoamerica, Teotihuacán is a city that archaeologists still know little about compared to other ancient civilizations.
The excavation project led by Mexican archaeologist Sergio Gómez, sheds light on what life was like in the pre-Aztec city, which traces back to as early as 400 B.C.
The discovery of a sacred space in Teotihuacán is particularly important, David Carballo, archeology professor at Boston University said.
“The way that Sergio interprets it is a reconstruction of the underworld,” he said. “A place of creation that would have been seen symbolically and used symbolically.”
Gómez and his team discovered a large sinkhole in 2003 at the base of the Temple of the Plumed Serpent pyramid after a violent rainstorm. Assuming only rock and stone lay beneath, Gómez was lowered into the ground and was shocked to find a man-made tunnel.
After years of planning and approval from the government, they began digging in 2009.
The passage travels from the temple to the Ciudadela, a nearby courtyard on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. After years of excavation, the thousands of artifacts discovered in the tunnel include animal bones, jewelry, pottery and greenstone statuettes.
But perhaps one of the most exciting finds are the preserved rubber balls.
“Usually organic materials like wood decompose, but here there’s preserved wood and persevered rubber balls that were used to play ball games,” Carballo said.
“We have never seen any of those before in Teotihuacán. These are the first rubber balls.”