Archaeology of Teotihuacan, Mexico
the basis of the reasearches summarized in Research
History (1), a new project was formed in 1987. The international
joint project was coordinated by Rubén Cabrera (Instituto Nacional
de Antropología e Historia), George Cowgill (Arizona State University),
Saburo Sugiyama (Arizona State University), and Carlos Serrano (Universidad
Nacional Autónoma de México). The excavation area of this
project, called the Project Temple of Quetzalcoatl 1988-89, was separated
into three fronts.
Front A was an extensive excavation on the east side of the Feathered
Serpent Pyramid, planned and coordinated by Rubén Cabrera and Rodolfo
Cid in both the 1988 and 1989 seasons. This was the only area that at that
time had been left untouched by previous excavations in the Ciudadela. The
excavation activities were organized around a series of trenches. Trenches
1, 2 and 3 were excavated in 1988, and backfilled at the end of the field
season. Trenches 4 and 5 were excavated in 1989, expanding areas exposed
in previous year. (general map of the Feathered
Under about 4 m of debris from the collapse of the pyramid were three Teotihuacan concrete floors which had been damaged considerably. Seven pits that had been dug into the tepetate were uncovered under these floors, as well as several smaller pits. Six of the pits were considered primary graves that formed parts of the sacrificial burial complex (Graves 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, and 11). The photo shows one of the individuals contained within Grave 6. (Graves at the East Side of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid)
The Front A excavation area was completely backfilled at the conclusion
of the exploration by the project in 1988-89. A new INAH project in 1993-94,
formed by Cabrera and new associates, finally removed all post-Teotihuacan
layers, including the backfill from the 1988-89 excavations on the east
side of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid.
Front B, supervised by George Cowgill, Oralia Cabrera, and others, refers to a series of pit excavations carried out on the north and west side of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid and in and near the Adosada platform in the 1988 season. Grave 1 was found on the north side of the pyramid in Pit 1 (Photo), mirroring Grave 203. (Graves at the North Side of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid)
Pit 2 was excavated on the top of the Adosada in the hope of dating this structure. The excavation extended down more than 5 m, mostly in loose, rocky fill, until it reached clearly undisturbed deposits. Significant quantities of materials of various kinds were recovered, although the most striking discovery was many fragments of intricately modeled, fired-clay walls.
Pit 3 reopened the 1939 excavation and tunnel at the foot of the staircase of the Adosada. This work was planned to investigate Sugiyama's proposal (1989a) that the offerings found by Pérez under the Adosada corresponded to the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, rather than to the Adosada. The excavation was not able to definitively confirm this, but it provided more information supporting his interpretation. Additional offerings, very similar to those reported by Rubín de la Borbolla, were found near Pérez's excavation.
Pit 4 was dug in what appear to have been in situ deposits sealed by a small section of Teotihuacan concrete floor atop the lowest stage of the stepped Adosada platform. This was done in order to obtain additional materials to date the structure. The ceramics recovered indicate a significant shift between the Feathered Serpent Pyramid and the Adosada.
We also reopened the 1939 excavation at the foot of the staircase of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid (Pit 5), in order to examine several questions raised earlier . This work confirmed that a long pit, highly likely for a grave, had existed here, and had been looted before the Adosada platform was constructed. (Grave and Caches at the West Side of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid)
Pit 6 was opened in the Great Plaza of the Ciudadela, at the northwest corner of the Adosada, in order to find out whether or not another grave was located here. The result was negative.
Finally, a series of test pits called Trench 1 were dug in 1988 between Grave 157 and the northeast corner of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid in order to search for more graves near the facades of the pyramid. The search for burials around the Feathered Serpent Pyramid through test pits originally focused on the south side of the structure. The pattern found on that side was later confirmed on the north side, as the excavations of Trench 1 did not detect any graves there. Front B also includes surface survey of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid and areas in the immediate vicinity. The area was divided into small sections so that surface collections could be systematically recorded using detailed topographic and architectural maps made in previous years.
Front C refers to a tunnel excavation coordinated by Sugiyama in 1988 and 1989, under the supervision of Cabrera and Cowgill. The tunnel excavation was designed to investigate the possibility of finding additional interments under the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, to test for the existence of earlier structures, to acquire information regarding construction materials and techniques, and to obtain data which could help to date the structure more precisely.
The initial excavation consisted of horizontal tunneling into the base of the platform, starting at the center point of the south facade at the level of the tepetate upon which the pyramid foundations were prepared. From that point, the tunneling operation proceeded northward along the north-south central line of the structure. This operation revealed that the pyramid fill was homogeneous throughout, consisting of rocks of various sizes and mud prepared with straw.
Two walled burial pits were encountered during the excavation. The first (Grave 2) was located 10 m inside. Eight individuals were discovered with offerings in it. The second (Grave 4) was found at 13.5 m north from the tunnel entrance. Eighteen individuals were discovered with substantially richer offerings.
Beyond these two burial pits, the tunnel continued northward toward the center. At 24 m inside, our archaeological tunnel intersected an ancient tunnel, the existence of which was not suggested either by the topography of the pyramid mound or any ethnohistorical or archaeological documents. The tunnel entrance was completely sealed, and apparently had been so for centuries. The discovery of the looters' tunnel forced us to make substantial changes in the original excavation strategy. At the same time, the existence of the tunnel provided unexpected opportunities to study the pyramid construction and burial complex more intensively. It also posed new research questions: when, why, and by whom was the tunnel made? We surveyed the entire tunnel and excavated a series of test pits along its entire length in order to obtain stratigraphic data and recover any materials that the excavators might have left behind. We discovered that the tunnel was made by looters who actually disturbed two multiple burials.
The looters' tunnel had its origin at the southeast corner of the pyramid and probably had been left open for a long time. The tunnel runs diagonally toward the center but misses the exact center by 2 m. West of the central north-south axis, the looters' tunnel passes over a large grave pit, Fosa 3 (containing Grave 12) , and then proceeds further westward where a still larger grave pit, Fosa 4 (Grave 13) was encountered. Both of these graves had been looted.
Although the looters' tunnel failed to pass through the exact center of the pyramid base, we took advantage of its proximity to the center to explore that area. We initiated a new tunnel excavation starting at the east wall of the looters' tunnel about 3 m north of Grave 12. At the exact center of the pyramid base, a 20-person multiple burial (Grave 14) was unearthed with the richest offerings known to date from Teotihuacan.
After the fieldwork of our project concluded, Mexican archaeologists re-investigated the Feathered Serpent Pyramid. In 1993-94, Alonzo Rubio Chacón and others excavated the east side of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, removing all post-Teotihuacan layers from this area, exposing the uppermost Teotihuacan floor. Rubio and physical anthropology students from the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia also excavated two more graves that had been previously identified by our project as a part of the sacrificial burial complex of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid. One of these was north of Grave 204, underneath the North Palace (1D:N1E1); the other was south of Grave 190, underneath the South Palace (1E:N1E1). These graves were designated Graves 16 and 17, respectively.
As briefly described above, several projects were engaged in the exploration of the burial complex, both before and after the Project Temple of Quetzalcoatl 1988-89. The availability of data and the recording systems employed are quite variable, and it was not possible to incorporate all of their results into these pages. We believe, however, that the information presented here, generated largely by our project, is comprehensive enough to answer a number of signficant questions about the Feathered Serpent Pyramid.
|East Side Excavation movie includes genral view of stratigraphy and Grave 11|
|South Side movie showing the south side of the FSP and sculptural heads|
|South East General view of the SE corner and southern passage of the FSP|
|Looters' Tunnel movie showing the inside view of the tunnel|