Setting the Old God on Fire

By: The Scribe on Monday, March 4, 2013

Strange as it may seem, it looks like the people of the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan tried to put out the flames of their god of fire… by burying him in a pit.

Mexican archaeologists have discovered a figure of the fire god Huehueteotl inside a covered pit, located at the very top of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan. Though excavations are ongoing, the discovery has prompted archaeologists to suggest that there used to be a temple at the top of the pyramid that was used to perform ritual offerings to the god.

This means that the largest stepped pyramid in the city would have been dedicated to this bearded god, usually depicted with a pot of fire on his head. Excavators found the figure of Huehueteotl and two stone pillars inside a 15-foot deep, covered pit—and the pit was underneath what historians believe is the remnant of a platform foundation for a small temple.

Until they started digging and “didn’t find the bottom of the platform”, archaeologists had no idea the pit was there. The suggestion has been made that Leopoldo Batres, a pioneering archaeologist who did restoration work on the Pyramid of the Sun’s basic form over a century ago, might have covered the platform up instead of excavating it (not an uncommon sort of decision for early archaeologists).

The figure of the god weighs 418 pounds, and was carved out of grey volcanic stone. The Pyramid of the Sun may hold other objects, as well—a 400-foot-long tunnel found in 2011 at the base of the structure is still under study, and it’s thought that only a fraction of the area has been covered with thorough study so far.

(Photo: European Pressphoto Agency) 


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