Just outside of modern-day Mexico City lies a literal ghost town containing a number of impressively large, ancient pyramids. This abandoned Meso-American city is known as Teotihuacan and dates back to 400BC. Over time, this city grew in size and power until it reached its peak population of around 200,000 people. Like many other ancient city’s in history, this one was also to fall, becoming officially abandoned around 700AD.
The city was to lie empty for many more years until being rediscovered by the Aztecs in the 1440s. The Aztecs were the ones who gave the ghostly city its name, Teotihuacan, meaning “the place where the Gods were created.” Because of this abandonment and its undocumented beginnings, very little is known and understood about the origins of Teotihuacan and who built it. Some clues to the past have been uncovered by scientists, yet many questions remain unanswered about the mystifying site.
Teotihuacan and Human Sacrifice
Teotihuacan is laid out on a grid over some eight square miles. Cutting directly through the ancient city is a large pathway, dubbed the Avenue of the Dead. Placed strategically along this avenue are many structures of significance including the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent.
Although little is known and understood about Teotihuacan’s past, evidence has been uncovered that suggests human sacrifices were performed in the city. In the late 80s, an elongated pit was found near the Temple of the Feathered Serpent that contained the bodies of 18 human sacrifice victims. Interestingly, shortly after this discovery was made another uncovered an even larger nearby pit containing a further 200 bodies. These individuals were also thought to be sacrificed and likely of significant standings within the city related to their military.
More recently, in 2004, more sacrifices were uncovered. This time, inside a chamber in the Pyramid of the Moon. This burial chamber was filled with 12 sacrifice victims, all of whom had their hands bound behind their backs. Ten of these bodies had been decapitated, with the two who weren’t laid out in ornate offerings. On top of these human sacrifices, many animal bodies were also discovered in this tomb. These ranged from large cats like jaguars and pumas, to coyotes, wolves and even eagles.
Although these findings portray dark moments in history they are not the most sinister discoveries to have been made at Teotihuacan.
Teotihuacan Gateway to the Underworld?
In 2017 scientists using technology that could scan the earth beneath the pyramids at Teotihuacan uncovered a strange tunnel. This tunnel led down directly below the Pyramid of the Moon. Interestingly, it extended downwards from a chamber inside the pyramid and is hypothesized to be related to the ancient funeral rights potentially linked to human sacrifices. Some have speculated that the tunnel represents a descent into the Underworld, while some have gone as far as believing that the tunnel is a kind of gateway or portal into this Underworld.
Very little is know of this tunnel as it remains sealed and has only been digitally mapped out. No one truly knows where it leads, what its use was or what lies within it. There is a hope that opening the tunnel could lead to further discoveries and clues as to who built Teotihuacan, thus unlocking mysteries of the past. However, many others fear that opening up this tunnel could lead to something far darker.
Visiting the Teotihuacan city and Pyramids
Teotihuacan exists just outside of Mexico City. A short bus ride will lead visitors to the attraction and archaeological site. Tickets can be purchased online through various tour outlets or at the gate. Some of the pyramids and temples are able to be climbed. I recommend wearing appropriate footwear for this as there are many steep, uneven, stone stairs to scale.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like to read about the ghosts of Chichen Itza.
Thanks for reading!