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The pre-Hispanic stone structure excavated in Mexico.

Unusual Pre-Hispanic Stone Circular Structure Found Near Mexican Village

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In April near the small village of Tecacahuaco, Hidalgo in east central Mexico, a farmer exploring his land discovered an unusual circular structure made from stone, which was partially covered by soil and vegetation yet still recognizable as a human construction.  

Recognizing the possible historical significance of this find, the farmer contacted friends and neighbors in the community of 1,250, asking them if anyone knew about the curious hill-shaped structure he’d stumbled across on the edge of his fields. People were soon visiting the site to see the object, and as word spread about its existence stories began to emerge to suggest this structure had been considered sacred by local healers in the past. 

It was said that these individuals would bring their ill patients to the site, to conduct healing ceremonies and leave behind sacrificial offerings to appease the gods, who would presumably then intervene to help the sick person recover. 

It was also said that a local priest had found stone monuments somewhere near the structure many years ago, and had ordered them destroyed to cover up the truth about the site’s link to pre-Columbian or pre-Hispanic spiritual practices and beliefs. 

Eventually the citizens of Tecacahuaco reported the farmer’s discovery to officials in the city of Atlapexco, which is responsible for investigating cultural finds in the area. Those officials then contacted Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in May 2024, after which INAH dispatched archaeologists to Tecacahuaco on three separate occasions to examine and analyze the ancient stone monument. The organization just recently issued a news release, detailing their discoveries at the site. 

Archaeologists have made three visits to the community to inspect the site.  

Archaeologists have made three visits to the community to inspect the site. (Gerardo Peña/INAH) 

A Closer Look at a Rare Post-Classic Artifact 

Made from carefully arranged mud plaster bricks, the enigmatic circular stone structure is approximately 12 feet (3.5 meters) tall. On its exterior it features a well-preserved stone staircase, which would have enabled ancient visitors to climb to its peak. 

The bottom section is circular in shape all the way around, curving upward to merge with V-shaped vertical walls that comprise the monument’s upper half. While some portions of the top part of the structure have crumbled away, for the most part it is still intact, with its curved lower section being in especially good shape.  

As the INAH archaeologists explored the surrounding area, they found evidence that showed the structure had once been encased inside a much larger building, one that measured 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter at its base. Nothing else about this bigger structure is known, because no actual ruins from it have been discovered during the ongoing excavations. 

The structure was identified following a citizen report in May 2024, which notified the INAH of the discovery of a circular base.  

The structure was identified following a citizen report in May 2024, which notified the INAH of the discovery of a circular base. (Gerardo Peña/INAH) 

There is currently no way for archaeologists to directly date an object of this type. But while combing over the surface of the structure and its surroundings, the INAH researchers recovered quite a few fragments of obsidian, a volcanic rock that was presumably used to make tools and other objects, and which has been found at other Mexican sites. Significantly, these sites have all been linked to pre-Hispanic peoples who lived in the region during Mesoamerica’s Post-Classic period (900 to 1521 AD), which suggests the circular structure of Tecacahuaco was likely built sometime during that era.  

If Tecacahuaco was an occupied settlement at this time, it would have been ruled by the Metztitlan lordship, an independent political entity that managed to survive even after the emergence of the Aztec Empire in central Mexico in the second half of the Post-Classic period. The fact that the circular structure was recognized as a sacred site in modern times implies it was seen that way in the past as well, with that knowledge likely being passed down through the generations. 

Bones and stones recovered at the site.  

Bones and stones recovered at the site. (Gerardo Peña/INAH) 

The Ancient Ball Court of Tecacahuaco Rediscovered  

As their explorations expanded, the archaeologists from INAH found further evidence to show that Tecacahuaco had been occupied in pre-Hispanic times, and possibly by quite a sizable population. Their most significant discovery was the outline of an ancient ball court, which was 60 feet (18 meters) long and as of now is still covered by a layer of sod and grass. 

In the Classic and Post-Classic periods sporting competitions were extremely popular in virtually all Mesoamerican societies, and many of the games were played with balls on square or rectangular courts. These athletic contests were more than just a form of entertainment, as they were often held in conjunction with important political or ceremonial events.  

As is the case today, the most successful athletes were likely celebrated as cultural heroes, and many young Mesoamerican boys undoubtedly dreamed of becoming ball players when they grew up. 

Notably, ball courts were usually built near the centers of cities, in recognition of their exalted status. The location of the newly discovered ball court near the curious stone structure could mean the latter was some type of religious monument, located in a prominent place inside a plaza or a temple. 

Protecting and Preserving a Fascinating Pre-Hispanic Legacy 

The circular stone structure and the ball court are the first significant pre-Hispanic archaeological finds reported near the village of Tecacahuaco. For this reason the people of the village, and the city government of Atkapexco, are imploring INAH to take steps to ensure the area is preserved and protected.  

Fortunately, the organization has promised to do just that, and its Hidalgo branch will be taking charge of the conservation efforts as excavations at the site continue. If indeed Tecacahuaco was once a thriving indigenous settlement, these explorations could produce some amazing discoveries. 

Top image: The pre-Hispanic stone structure excavated in Mexico. Source: Gerardo Peña/INAH 

Nathan Falde's picture


Nathan Falde graduated from American Public University in 2010 with a Bachelors Degree in History, and has a long-standing fascination with ancient history, historical mysteries, mythology, astronomy and esoteric topics of all types. He is a full-time freelance writer from... Read More

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