Mexico is home to many great things. Among them is the Pyramid of the Sun, which has been around since 100CE. And it’s not just the largest structure in Teotihuacan. This 720-by-760-feet-wide pyramid is also one of the largest structures of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. It attracts hundreds of curious researchers and archaeologists. In 2011, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History made an amazing discovery of hidden treasure buried in the bowels of the structure. They recovered several items, and among them was a serpentine mask that gave them hope about learning more about the people who built the pyramid.
INAH’s researchers were able to find the artifacts by going through a 380-foot-long tunnel that had been dug by archaeologists during the 1930s. The cache of trinkets had been buried deep beneath the structure. Its location made the researchers assume that the cache was an offering. This particular mask fascinated archaeologists from far and wide because it was the only mask of its kind to be found in a ritual context at the time.
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This mask was the first to be found in a ritual setting
This particular mask amazed everyone when INAH announced it to the world in December 2011. The suprising find mesmerized people for its delicate, lifelike look. Initial theories claimed that the mask was actually a portrait of the Pyramid’s original people. They weren’t far from the truth.
The masks were not common. Scientific excavations, like the one INAH conducted, yielded only 4 masks. Looters, on the other hand, got many. And they sold their discoveries to willing private collectors. The masks rake in millions of dollars. And not just because it’s a piece of history. The masks are carved entirely from precious stones like serpentine and alabaster. Big pieces can measure from 20 to 28 centimeters while the smaller masks range from 13 to 19 centimeters.
The Teotihucan serpentine mask shares similarities with the Egyptian funeral mask
“Though they vary in size, Teotihuacan masks are highly standardized: the top of the head is always squared off; the face is trapezoidal with squared ears, marked brow lines, open eyes, a prominent nose, and an open mouth with full lips. The eyes and the mouth were probably inlaid, and the drilled holes in the ears may have held ear ornaments. Teotihuacan masks always exhibit high quality workmanship.” – Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
It is worth noting that the impressively ‘lifelike’ masks do not feature eye holes. It was unwearable. Which meant that it was only a decoration. The Teothican mask was like the Egyptian funeral mask. This conclusion led many to speculate that the Pyramid of the Sun served as a burial place for important members of the still-unknown society that occupied Teotihuacan.
People abandoned the “Mecca of Civilization”
In the past, Teotihuacan was known as The City of the Gods. However, there isn’t much information about its citizens or their way of life. It was the mecca of civilization, as it was home to over 200,000 people during its peak. During the 1970s, explorations below the pyramid revealed a system of caves and tunnel chambers and more tunnels that lead throughout the city. Archaeologists also believed that there was a temple atop the pyramid, which would explain its curiously flat peak.
Teotihuacan was empty for years until the Aztecs came. In fact, they were the ones who gave the prominent pyramid it’s current name. Its original name remains to be a mystery that scholars dream to solve someday. Perhaps one day, archaeologists will finally learn what made people pick up and just abandon The City of the Gods. Numerous theories have floated around. Some speculate that people left because of a drought or famine. Others think that a war broke out and people had to run away.
The Pyramid of the Sun deserves a spot on your bucket list
Just because its history remains elusive doesn’t mean it can’t be a part of our present. Mortals like us are more than welcome to come and visit the Pyramid of the Sun. According to @thatzwhathesaid, you’ll notice that the builders fashioned the pyramid’s shape to match the mountain’s slant in the background. It’s definitely going to take your breath away because you’ll need to climb 248 uneven steps to reach its 216-feet-high summit. But judging from the photos we’ve seen from those who’ve gone to the pyramid, the view from the top isn’t so bad. (It’s magnificent.)
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Yes we climbed the Pyramid of the Sun behind me, yes it was a challenge to get to the top (but the view is amazing) and yes I thought only Egypt had pyramids ? • • • • • #pyramid #pyramidofthesun #mexico #mexicocity #travel #travelgram #neverstopexploring #wanderlust #love
Well at least this green mask won’t turn anybody into an eccentric, green-faced human tornado, if you catch my drift! Have you visited a pyramid before? If not, is it part of your bucket list? Tell us in the comments!