MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A sacred tunnel discovered in the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan is filled with thousands of ritual objects and may lead to royal tombs, the lead Mexican archaeologist on the project said on Wednesday.
The entrance to the 1,800-year-old tunnel was first discovered in 2003, and its contents came to light thanks to excavations by remote-control robots and then human researchers, archeologist Sergio Gomez told reporters.
The site is located about 30 miles (50km) northeast of Mexico City. The ruins have long been shrouded in mystery because its inhabitants did not leave behind written records.
The artifacts found inside the tunnel, located below the Temple of the Plumed Serpent, include finely carved stone sculptures, jewelry and shells.
An estimated 50,000 objects, 4,000 made of wood as well as scores of obsidian blades and arrow heads, provide clues into how the city’s priests and rulers conceived the underworld.
“Due to the magnitude of the offerings that we’ve found, it can’t be in any other place,” said Gomez, who works for Mexico’s national anthropology and history institute, referring to the possibility of finding royal tombs.
“We’ve been able to confirm all of the hypotheses we’ve made from the beginning,” he added, saying ongoing excavations could yield more major discoveries next year. One of Mexico’s most-visited ancient sites, Teotihuacan is home to massive pyramids, temples and elite residences including many adorned with colorful murals. The city reached its peak between 100 BC and 650 BC with a population as large as 200,000, growing rich from a wide-ranging trade in obsidian that in pre-Colombian times was used to make knives and other weapons.