Aztec Ball Court Discovered by Archaeologists in Mexico City
EXCERPT “NBC NEWS”:
The remains of a major Aztec temple and a ceremonial ball court have been discovered in downtown Mexico City, shedding new light on the sacred spaces of the metropolis that Spanish conquerors overran five centuries ago.
The discoveries were made on a nondescript side street just behind the city's colonial-era cathedral, off the main Zocalo plaza, on the grounds of a 1950s-era hotel.
The underground excavations reveal a section of what was the foundation of a massive, circular-shaped temple dedicated to the Aztec wind god Ehecatl and a smaller part of a ritual ball court, confirming accounts of the first Spanish chroniclers to visit the Aztec imperial capital, Tenochtitlan.
"Due to finds like these, we can show actual locations, the positioning and dimensions of each one of the structures first described in the chronicles," said Diego Prieto, head of Mexico's main anthropology and history institute.
Archaeologists also detailed a grisly offering of 32 severed male neck vertebrae discovered in a pile just off the court.
"It was an offering associated with the ball game, just off the stairway," said archaeologist Raul Barrera. "The vertebrae, or necks, surely came from victims who were sacrificed or decapitated."
Some of the original white stucco remains visible on parts of the temple, built during the 1486-1502 reign of Aztec Emperor Ahuizotl, predecessor of Moctezuma, who conquistador Hernan Cortes toppled during the Spanish conquest of Mexico.