Templo Mayor: Revelations of Bygone Grandeur at Mexico City

Templo Mayor is the most important Aztec temple of Tenochtitlan. According to legend, the temple was originally a simple structure built when the Aztecs founded Tenochtitlan in 1325. As time passed and the Aztecs became more powerful, the temple was augmented and became a construction of magnificent proportions. After the Spaniards defeated the Aztecs and destroyed Tenochtitlan, Mexico City was built on the ruins. As the city grew, remnants of Tenochtitlan steadily faded. In the late 1970s, utility workers unearthed a stone that had been carved to depict the story of the goddess Coyolxauhqui. The find inspired the government to invest more in archaeological excavations, leading to the discovery of the area where the great temple had been.

Now, thanks to the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), a new program is connecting the people of the present with the grandeur of the past. In a programcalled "Ventanas Arqueológicas," the INAH is giving visitors and local residents alike the opportunityto see previously inaccessible glimpses of Tenochtitlan's past glory, especially Templo Mayor. Insteadof backfilling recently excavatedsites, INAH has opted to incorporate mini exhibits into the current buildings. Excavations in the modern presidential palace revealed stone steps that originally led to Templo Mayor's platform. Another "window" can be found in the Sagrario, a church next to the city's cathedral. Workers who were trying to address the building's sinking foundation discovered the southeastern corner of another temple that archaeologists think may have been associated with Ehécatl, a deity associated with Quetzalcóatl. A frame was installed, and now visitors to the church can glimpse the ancient temple. A stone wall panel found there reveals in striking detail the four cardinal directions and a central sun, represented as quetzal feathers.




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