Mexican archaeologists using ground-penetrating radar in Mexico
City believe they have discovered the first tomb of an Aztec ruler
ever to be uncovered.
The underground chambers they have detected likely contain the
remains of Emperor Ahuizotl (1486-1502).
Ahuizotl (pronounced ah-WEE-zoh-tuhl) reigned over the
Aztecs when Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. He was an
empire-builder who extended the Aztecs' reach as far as Guatemala,
and was the last emperor to complete his rule before the Spanish
Archaeologists reported that they have located what appears to
be a six-foot-by-six-foot entrance into the tomb about fifteen feet
(4.5m) below ground. The passage is filled with water, rocks and
mud, forcing workers to dig delicately while suspended from slings.
Pumps work to keep the water level down.
"We are doing it very, very slowly ... because the
responsibility is very great and we want to register everything,"
said Leonardo Lopez Lujan, the lead government archaeologist on the
project. "It's a totally new situation for us, and we don't know
exactly what it will be like down there."
The archaeologists are literally digging into the unknown
because no Aztec royal tomb has ever been found. Radar indicates the
tomb has up to four chambers, and scientists think they will find a
constellation of elaborate offerings to the gods on the floor.
All indications so far point to Ahuizotl. The site lies directly
below a huge, recently discovered stone monolith carved with a
representation of Tlaltecuhtli (tlahl-tay-KOO-tlee), the
Aztec god of the earth.
Any artefacts linked to Ahuizotl would be of tremendous pride to
Mexico. The country has sought unsuccessfully to recover Aztec
artefacts like the feather-adorned "shield of Ahuizotl" and the
"Montezuma headdress" from the Ethnology Museum in Vienna, Austria.