Templo Mayor

This is one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. After the destruction of Tenochtitlan, the Templo Mayor, like most of the rest of the city, was taken apart and covered over by the new Spanish colonial city. The Temple’s exact location was forgotten, although by the 20th-century scholars had a good idea where to look for it. However, it did not generate great public interest in excavating further because the zone was an upper-class residential area. The push to fully excavate the site did not come until late in the 20th century. On 21 February 1978, workers for the electric company were digging at a place in the city then popularly known as the “island of the dogs”. It was so named because it was slightly elevated over the rest of the neighborhood, and when that was flooded, street dogs would congregate there. Just over two meters down, the diggers struck a pre-Hispanic monolith. This stone turned out to be a huge disk of over 3.25 meters (10.7 feet) in diameter, 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) thick and weighing 8.5 metric tons. The relief on the stone was later determined to be Coyolxauhqui, Huitzilopochtli’s sister, dating to the end of the 15th century. To excavate, 13 buildings in this area had to be demolished. Nine of these were built in the 1930s and four dated from the 19th century, and had preserved colonial elements. During excavations, more than 7,000 objects were found. The first Templo Mayor began sometime after 1325 by the Aztecs the year after they founded the city, and the pyramid was rebuilt six times.