MEXICO CITY – The discovery 40 years ago next month of a sculpture of the Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui opened a window on the past that Mexican archaeologists have been exploring ever since.
It was Feb. 21, 1978, when electric company workers digging at the site where the remains of the Aztec Templo Mayor (Great Temple) have been buried since 1521 came upon the pink andesite monolith, a disc 3.25 meters (10.7 feet) in diameter, 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) thick and weighing 8.5 metric tons.
By the end of the following month, work was under way to unearth the ruins of “the Aztec Empire’s largest pyramid, 45 meters (147.5 feet) tall,” Templo Mayor project director Leonardo Lopez Lujan told EFE.
“We’re very happy because we’re reaching four decades of uninterrupted work in the heart of Mexico City, where 20 million people live,” he said, adding that the site yields new discoveries every day.
Since the initial discovery of Coyolxauhqui, the scientific team from the National Anthropology and History Institute has recovered at the site more than 100,000 artifacts that are now on exhibit or stored at the Templo Mayor Museum.
Currently, archaeologists are working at the foot of the Templo Mayor pyramid around altars to war god Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc, god of rain.