Secret Chamber and Tunnel Discovered Under the Temple of the Moon at Teotihuacan Emulate the Underworld
Archaeologists have confirmed the existence of a secret tunnel and chamber under the Pyramid of the Moon in the ancient city of Teotihuacan in Mexico. They suggest that these features may have been used in rituals and a way for Teotihuacan’s ancient inhabitants to imitate the underworld.
The ancient city of Teotihuacan, which is located about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico city, flourished between 100 BC and 750 AD and is one of the largest and most important sacred cities of ancient Mesoamerica. Its name means "the city of the gods" in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. It once supported an estimated population of 100,000 – 200,000 people, who raised giant monuments such as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. However, much about Teotihuacan remains unknown, including the origin of the people who lived there, as they did not leave behind any written records.
The ancient site of Teotihuacan. Source: BigStockPhoto
Secret Underground Tunnel and Chamber Emulate the Underworld
Archaeologists from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico scanned the area of the Plaza of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Moon in June 2017. They made their discoveries through the use of an electrical tomography scan. In order to apply the scan, they injected electric current into the subsoil and measured the resistance of the different materials found there. They used the resulting data to create preliminary 2D and 3D models. The models showed that the straight tunnel is about 30 feet (10 m) below ground.
They have now confirmed there is also a chamber is eight meters (26 ft.) below the Pyramid of the Moon. It has a diameter of 15 meters (49 ft.), connects to the tunnel leading out towards the south of the Plaza of the Moon, and may have a western entrance into the chamber as well.
These discoveries demonstrate that the people of Teotihuacan followed the same tunnel pattern in their largest monuments. Experts say the finding is also important because it seems to verify the speculations that the ancient people of Teotihuacan were digging tunnels systematically under their monuments in order to emulate the underworld – a place where life, plants, and food were believed to be created.
Researchers placed electrodes in the ground by the ancient temple so they could map the electrical current throughout the soil. Credit: Melitón Tapia/INAH
The Fascinating Underworld of Caves and Tunnels in Teotihuacan
Many people don’t know or realize the immense and peculiar underworld of caves and man-made tunnels that extends under much of the ancient site and for miles around. The existence of these tunnels has been known for centuries within archaeological circles, but not even the most recent research has been able to solve the mystery of their origin and purpose. Very much like at Giza, in Egypt, these tunnels are rumored to connect all the main pyramids by means of underground passageways, and perhaps even lead to the records of a lost civilization.
As Marco M. Vigato, an independent researcher into ancient mysteries and megalithic civilization, reported in a previous Ancient Origins article, French explorer and anthropologist Desiré Charnay was one of the first Europeans to penetrate into this labyrinth of tunnels in modern times, and leave a detailed account of it. In his 1880 book “Les anciennes villes du Nouveau Monde,” Charnay recounts having been led by his guide to some cavernous quarries, two-and-a-half miles (1.6 kilometers) west of the Pyramid of the Moon. There he was showed the entrances to several galleries, branching off in different directions at regular angles. These led to different chambers, which he described as “large halls”, one in particular “shaped like a rotunda” and filled with human remains.
Charnay had no doubt that these tunnels had been dug in ancient times, and he speculated these could have served as quarries to build the many structures above ground in Teotihuacan, and were only later turned into catacombs. But what was the utility of these tunnels? According to Marco M. Vigato, if the caves and tunnels of Teotihuacan were designed as a symbolic representation of the Underworld, it is very well possible that any new tunnels discovered could one day lead to a tomb, perhaps the final resting place of mysterious ruling elite responsible for the construction of Teotihuacan and for the monumental megalithic architecture present at the site.
Further Examination of the Chamber and Tunnel May Reveal Valuable Information
Researchers are eager to continue their explorations of the tunnel and chamber to determine when they were built. One of their main motivations is the fact that when the tunnel under the Pyramid of the Sun was discovered back in the 1970s, archaeologists weren’t able to learn much about its history and culture as it had been previously looted. They now hope that the new found features can provide information about the Teotihuacan people that couldn’t be provided from the tunnel under the Pyramid of the Sun.
Additionally, the investigation of the new features could reveal whether there are more tunnels around the pyramid, as researchers noticed some alterations in the subsoil, particularly in large pits and channels that were likely used for rituals. "These elements indicate that before the construction of the pyramid, there was a sacralization [performing sacred rites throughout it] of the space, since green megalithic stones have been found in front of the building," Verónica Ortega, director of the Integral Conservation Project of the Plaza de la Luna, told Live Science.
Top image: Teotihuacan, Pyramid of the Moon (Arian Zergers / Flickr)