Mexican archaeologists have discovered what could be a passageway to the ancient tomb of Aztec emperors.
The Associated Press reports that archeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan and his team have discovered a “long tunnel leading into the center of a circular platform where dead rulers were believed to have been cremated.”
The passageway was found in 2013, when a “hollow space” behind a boulder revealed “gold ornaments and the bones of eagles and infants were found in an offering box.” Further excavation revealed the hollow space was perhaps the entrance to a tunnel that's thought to lead to a type of ceremonial chamber.
The archaeologist team plans to continue digging next year to verify their find.
“The hypothesis is that there will be two small chambers with urns holding the ashes of Mexica rulers, but we could be wrong,” Lujan told the AP. “What we are speculating is that behind these sealed-up entrances there could be two small chambers with incinerated remains of some rulers of Tenochtitlan [as the ancient capital was known], like Moctezuma I and his successors, Axayacatl and Tizoc, given the relative dating of the surrounding constructions.”
When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in present day Mexico City, they destroyed the main Aztec temple known as Templo Mayor and used the stones to build a huge cathedral as part of their efforts to convert everyone to Catholicism. Throughout the years, many Aztec artifacts have been uncovered at the old temple ruins.
In 1978 construction workers from the national commission of electricity made a startling discovery when they came across a huge stone disk depicting the dismembered Aztec moon goddess Coyolxauhqui. Subsequent excavations uncovered so many objects that Mexican authorities decided to build a museum at the site.
Until now, the whereabouts of Aztec rulers remain a mystery lost in time. While the remains of Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes are allegedly buried inside the walls of a church that's close to Templo Mayor.