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    People gather in front of the Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012

    Mexico Workers Unearth 650-Year-Old Temple at Supermarket Demolition Site

    © AP Photo/ Israel Leal
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    The remains of a 650-year-old sacred structure have been discovered beneath a demolished supermarket in Mexico City.

    The remains of an ancient temple were discovered beneath a demolished mid-20th century supermarket in Mexico City. While archaeologists had expected to find pottery or human remains beneath the building, they were startled to find instead a circular platform, some 36 feet in diameter and elevated 4 feet above the ground.

    According to the archaeologists, the site is believed to have been built to worship Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, the god of wind, one of the principal deities of ancient people who lived in the region.

    Offerings to the wind god found scattered about the structure include bird bones, obsidian, maguey cactus spines, ceramic monkeys figurines, and duck bills. The remains of an infant human were also found, with no signs of trauma.

    ​The temple is a "glimpse into the past, a place that opens up for us, from the archeological side, to understand the development of the cities that preceded us," said Pedro Francisco Sanchez Nava, archaeology coordinator for Mexico's National Anthropology and History Institute.

    The sacred site is one of many similar structures, said archaeologist Salvador Guilliem. These structures, round on three sides with a rectangular platform on the fourth side, have been found in various locations, including in the Mexico City area.

    ​Some 650 years ago, this area of Mexico City, known as Tlatelolco, was an economic rival and sister city of Tenochtitlan, another nearby city. The two cities are believed to have been founded in the 14th century, about 12 years apart. Inhabited by people of the same tribe, Tlatelolco's people are believed to have stemmed from outcasts from Tenochtitlan. Tenochtitlan is believed to have been a center of political power, while Tlatelolco dedicated itself to commerce. The latter city's important market was noted by the Spanish conquistador Cortes. Eventually Tenochtitlan took control of Tlatelolco, before being destroyed by Conquistadors.

    The large stone platform, which sits in the middle of a construction site, has been made available for viewing. The owners of the land have chosen to preserve the site intact, and will make the ancient structure accessible to the public through a viewing exposition window, after a new supermarket is constructed nearby.

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    Tags:
    archaeology, temple, ancient, aztec, Mexico City, Tlatelolco, Tenochtitlan, Mexico
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