Archaeology of Teotihuacan, Mexico
The front facade of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid was later covered by
a new construction, the Adosada platform that bore typical Teotihuacan tablero-talud
walls with stucco plaster and mural painting. This addition seems to have
constituted one of the earliest acts of profanation, as already suggested
by Marquina (1979 ) about 70 years ago. The recent excavations provide
substantial information on the Adosada construction and other acts of profanation.
of the most striking indications of termination of the consecrated monument
may be the looters' tunnel found inside the Feathered Serpent Pyramid (Photo
above right). It seems to have started at the southeast corner of the monument
(photo left) and continued diagonally toward the central part, destroying
the internal structure of the original construction fill of the pyramid
(General Map of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid). Since the entrance to the
tunnel had completely been sealed by later collapses, its existence was
previously unknown, and no indication about when and why the tunnel was
originally made was recovered by surface observation and collection in the
tunnel. Therefore, a series of pits on the floor of the tunnel were excavated
by our project in order to obtain continuous stratigraphic data along the
tunnel, as well as to recover associated archaeological materials (Photo
This revealed that two multiple burials near the center of the pyramid had been looted (photo left) and that the looters seem to have scattered parts of offerings and human bones on the tunnel floors mainly near these looted burials. They apparently did not leave behind any of their own artifacts, as their main activity was not to live, but to loot in the tunnel. However, we collected in the looters' layers a large amount of burned wood fragments that may directly date the event by C14 analysis, since many of them were probably remains of combustible materials used by looters to provide illumination in the tunnel.
The dates given by 25 samples from the looters' layers in the tunnel extend from 15 A.D. to 743. Some of the samples seem to have been from wood posts contained as internal structure of the pyramid. Therefore, they would date to the construction of the monument or earlier. Ten of 25 samples appear to indicate dates of the construction of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, according to the dates given by other samples recovered inside the original fill of the pyramid (that are 210 A.D. approximately). The remaining 15 samples cover a lapse from 391 A.D. (253 A.D.-435) to 743 A.D. (669 A.D.-790). This appears to imply that the activities in the looters' tunnel possibly began late in the fourth century, if not earlier, or at the latest during the fifth century, and that the tunnel was possibly abandoned in the eighth century. This implies that the pyramid was probably looted when at least some sectors of the city were functioning and the tunnel was possibly closed to humans, or abandoned in the eighth century. In other words, the looting did not begin with the collapse of the city; the looting was an episode of the functioning city's history and ceased in the eighth century when the thorough destruction of the metropolis is thought to have taken place (See Sugiyama 1994 for more detailed discussion).
Looters' Tunnel movie showing the inside view of the tunnel