Tlachihualtepetl, or the Great Pyramid of Cholula, stands out for several reasons. One of them is its size; and another the fact that hidden in plain sight, disguised as a great hill, for centuries. We have known about its existence for almost 150 years, but the great pyramid is still full of mysteries.
The pyramid is certainly colossal. Despite being only 65 meters high (similar to the elevation of the Menkaure pyramid, the smallest of the three pyramids at Giza), the plan of Tlachihualtepetl stretches for 450 m. This gives the pyramid a volume of 4,500,000 cubic meters (double that of the Cheops pyramid), and makes it one of the largest monuments created by mankind.
Tlachihualtepetl can be translated as “handmade mountain” and the Aztecs They dedicated this temple to the god Quetzalcóatla deity associated with concepts as diverse as wind, life, light, wisdom, fertility or knowledge.
In December 2022, the works for the rehabilitation of the Escalinata del Pocito began. This area derives its name from a chapel built over a source of “miraculous water”. These works seek to rehabilitate an area especially damaged by the 2017 earthquake, but the works are facilitating the appearance of new archaeological findings.
During the excavations, an adobe nucleus from the end of the classical period was found, that is, between the years 100 and 600 CE
“Although we no longer have the façade or the plastering of the sixth stage of the pyramid, these nuclei hint at the shape the building would have had,” explained the archaeologist from the National Institute of Archeology and History (INAH) in a press release. ) Mariana Toledo Mendieta.
Among the first findings is a statuette that archaeologists believe showed Tlaloc, god of rain, recognizable by his characteristic eyes and fangs. Additionally, archaeologists found remains of multiple clay braziers.
“Its antiquity has not yet been determined and if they had a ritual function or were pyramid lights, but it is clear that there was a sustained use of fire in this site and that, at the moment in which one of the braziers broke, instead of removing it, they placed another one on top of it”, commented Toledo Mendieta in this regard.
It is not known exactly when the construction of the Great Pyramid began, but it is believed that the first pyramid was built in the 2nd century BCE. First pyramid since Tlachihualtepetl is actually a series of growing pyramids, built over centuries, one superimposed on the other as if it were matryoshkas.
This first pyramid was about 120 meters on each side., and was enlarged in the first instance to reach 170 meters long and 45 meters high. The pyramid underwent successive extensions until the changes experienced during the 8th century CE led to its abandonment. Built in adobe and earth, the pyramid ended up being filled with vegetation giving it the appearance of a small mount or hill.
In mid-October 1519, the army under the command of Hernán Cortés, made up of Hispanic troops and their allies from Tlaxcala, entered the unarmed city on their way to Tenochtitlán. When the “Cholula Massacre” took place, the great pyramid had already been abandoned for years.
so much that the conquering troops were unaware of its existence, and probably after confusing it with a hill, they built the Church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios on it. It was not until 1881 that the pyramid was rediscovered by Adolph Bandelier.
Since then various archaeological excavations have been carried out on the pyramid. Among the most important were those carried out between 1930 and 1950 by Ignacio Marquina, who dug some eight kilometers of tunnels. The Catholic temple that tops the pyramid is today considered a protected cultural asset, which limits excavation work.
The last excavation is about to end (the restoration works are expected to finish at the beginning of this month) and its first findings are proof that this thousand-year-old temple he may still be reserving more than one secret for us.
Imagen | Dge, CC BY-SA 4.0
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