By the 1300s, when the Aztecs are believed to have found the ruins of Teotihuacán, the ancient city had been abandoned for some six centuries. The Aztecs gave the city its name (pronounced tay-oh-tee-wah-kahn), which can be translated roughly as “The City of the Gods” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language.
Goméz and his team of archaeologists and workers have been excavating the tunnel, which runs some 330 feet from the Ciudadela to the center of the temple. They found that the original entrance, located a few yards from the sinkhole, was apparently closed off with boulders some 1,800 years ago, meaning whatever was inside had remained untouched since. The team moved slowly and carefully through the tunnel, removing some 1,000 tons of earth as they made their way. By late 2015, they had recovered some 75,000 artifacts, ranging from seashells, pottery and jewelry to animal bones and even fragments of human skin.
When the archaeologists discovered that the tunnel ended in a large cross-shaped chamber containing piles of jewelry and other statues, many hoped they were on the verge of discovering the treasure-laden burial tomb of some as-yet-unknown Teotihuacano ruler. Inside the chamber they found still more treasures, including necklaces, jars of amber and two finely carved black stone statues, likely figures of worship for the Teotihuacanos. Though Goméz and his team have yet to find an actual tomb, he believes the tunnel and its various chambers, with their wealth of carefully placed artifacts, may represent a kind of symbolic tomb. BY SARAH PRUITT