It is believed that the Ancient Aztecs cremated the remains of their rulers during the zenith of their empire between 1325 and 1521 AD. However, despite decades of excavations, archaeologists never found any deposits of ashes. But all of this could change drastically now that researchers have discovered a narrow underground passage which apparently leads towards two sealed chambers under the Templo Mayor, the absolute center of the Aztec religious life. The Templo Mayor or Great Temple is one of the main temples located in the capital city of Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. The temple was called the huei teocalli in the Nahuatl language and dedicated simultaneously to two gods, Huitzilopochtli, god of war, and Tlaloc.
Archaeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan and his team found the narrow passage of about 8.4 meters in length leading to the center of a circular platform where it is believed that the remains of the Aztec rulers were cremated, reports the website of the INAH. The entrance of the tunnel was blocked by a boulder weighing around three tons, and after it was removed in 2013, researchers found a gap with ritual offerings.
Archaeologists discovered gold ornaments, eagle and human bones in a box of offerings. Among the artifacts, researchers also found two skulls of children between five and seven years with the first three vertebrae, which suggests they might have been beheaded. Researchers also found sacrificial knives used by the ancient Aztecs. Subsequently, an investigator found signs of a corridor that seemed to lead deeper into the ceremonial platform known as the Cuauhxicalco.
“Once the rocks and dirt were dug out, we saw that it led directly into the heart of the Cuauhxicalco,” Lopez Lujan said. “At the end (of the passageway), there are what appear to be two old entrances that had been sealed up with masonry,” he added.
This would be a logical place to keep the remains of the leaders of this ancient civilization, the Templo Mayor was the most important complex of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, but Mexican archaeologists have been searching for the tombs in vain for years, and these new details are exciting as it gets, comparable in magnitude to discovering a mummy inside the pyramids of Giza.
Lopez Lujan and his team are being cautious suggesting that the presence of graves at the end on the newly discovered tunnel could be a theory that is wrong, and they fill find out what they have actually discovered in 2016, when excavations are expected to start.
“What we are speculating is that behind these sealed-up entrances there could be two small chambers with the incinerated remains of some rulers of Tenochtitlan, like Moctezuma I and his successors, Axayacatl and Tízoc, given the relative dating of the surrounding constructions,” Lopez Lujan said.
According to Susan Gillespie, archaeologist from the University of Florida who was not involved in the project, the discovery could be extremely significant.
“We have pictures from the 16th century documents of the wrapped corpses of kings. Their “cremains” should be somewhere in the Templo Mayor vicinity according to the documents, but one cannot expect a great tomb chamber as was the case of the earlier Maya kings,” wrote Gillespie .