Archaeologists conducting restoration works have made exciting new discoveries at the Great Pyramid of Cholula.
The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (meaning “made-by-hand mountain” in Nahuatl), is an archaeological site and temple complex in the San Andrés Cholula, Puebla municipality of Mexico.
The pyramid is dedicated to the Aztec/Nahua version of the feathered-serpent deity, Quetzalcoatl, an important god in the Aztec pantheon who is associated with the wind, Venus, dawn, merchants, arts, crafts, knowledge, and learning.
Cholula is one of the largest pyramids by volume in the Americas, covering an area of 300 by 315 metres, compared to the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán, that measures 220 by 230 metres, and the Great Pyramid of Egypt, measuring 230 by 230 metres.
Occupation of the ceremonial precinct began in the Late Formative period, and the first building stage of the pyramid dates to the Terminal Formative. The Great Pyramid was built in four major construction stages and at least nine further phases of minor modifications.
Restoration works led by archaeologist, Catalina Castilla Morales, and supervised by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), have uncovered an adobe core on the eastern side of the pyramid that dates from the end of the Classic period.
Brazier ceramics and the statue of Tlaloc – Image Credit : Mariana Toledo, INAH
The team also found an unusual accumulation of broken ceramics, which a closer analysis has determined were pre-Hispanic braziers. Whether the braziers had a ritual function or were simply used to illuminate the pyramid is unclear. What is apparent, is that there was a sustained use of fire at the pyramid, indicated by multiple deposits of ceramics placed in layers after they were discarded.
Excavations also found a 30cm cylindrical sculpture in white stone, representing the Aztec god, Tlaloc, the supreme god of the rain, earthly fertility and of water, depicted with his “goggle eyes” and fangs.
As part of the restoration works, the team have conducted archaeological surveys on the surface, as well as studies of the underground level and cleaning of 24 tunnels beneath the pyramid.
Header Image – Pyramid of Cholula – Image Credit : Kit Leong – Shutterstock
This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily
Archaeologists uncover tomb of Emperor Xiaomin of Northern Zhou
In a press announcement by the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), archaeologists have discovered the tomb of Emperor Xiaomin of Northern Zhou near Xianyang City, China.
Emperor Xiaomin (birth name: Yuwen Jue), was the founder of the Xianbei-led Northern Zhou dynasty of China that lasted from AD 557 to 581. One of the Northern dynasties of China’s Northern and Southern dynasties period, it succeeded the Western Wei dynasty and was eventually overthrown by the Sui dynasty.
Rather than take the title of emperor, Xiaomin instead used the Zhou Dynasty title of “Heavenly Prince”, however, a power struggle occurred between Xiaomin and the his cousin, Yuwen Hu, who deposed Xiaomin and had him killed.
Archaeologists conducting excavations adjacent to the Airport Expressway in Xianyang City have uncovered the tomb of Emperor Xiaomin, designated Tomb M655.
Image Credit : CASS
Excavations have revealed a 147 long ditch, leading to a tomb oriented on a north to south axis. The tomb contains a single chamber at a depth of 10 metres, containing disturbed funerary offerings such as ceramic vessels and figurines depicting warriors, cavalry units, a camel, and indiscernible creatures.
The team also discovered an epitaph stone with an inscription loosely translated as: “Renshen in October of the second year of the tomb of Gongyu Wenjue, Duke of Lueyang, Zhou Dynasty” – referring to the birth name of Yuwen Jue.
According to the press announcement: “The archaeological discovery of Yuwen Jue’s tomb from the Northern Zhou Dynasty is of great significance. It is the second Northern Zhou emperor’s tomb that has been excavated after the Xiaoling Mausoleum of Emperor Wu of the Northern Zhou Dynasty.”
Header Image Credit : CASS
Viking trade connections stretched to Arctic Scandinavia
An analysis by researchers from the University of York has revealed Viking trade routes between northern Scandinavia and the edges of continental Europe.
The study focuses on trade connections from the town of Hedeby, an important trading settlement during the Viking Age near the southern end of the Jutland Peninsula in Germany.
Hedeby is first mentioned in the Frankish chronicles of Einhard (who was in the service of Charlemagne), but was probably founded around AD 770.
Hedeby’s prominence as a primary trading hub can be attributed to its strategic geographical positioning along the pivotal trade routes connecting the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia in the north-south direction, as well as the Baltic and the North Sea in the east-west direction.
The town was also a major centre of antler-working, with 288,000 antler finds recorded to date, most of which are waste material from the production of hair combs.
A ZooMS analysis of the collagen in the combs has revealed that 85-90% of the combs were made from reindeer antler during the 9th century AD. The combs or antlers were imported from northern Scandinavia, indicating new evidence for contact between Hedeby and the northern outlands in central and northern Scandinavia.
Dr Steven Ashby, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, said: “The work at Hedeby is particularly interesting, as it tells us about connections between the mountains of upland or arctic Scandinavia and this large town at the gateway to continental Europe, and points to a window in the 9th Century when these northern links must have been particularly strong.”
The paper ‘In the footsteps of Ohthere: biomolecular analysis of early Viking Age hair combs from Hedeby (Haithabu)’ is published in Antiquity Journal.
Header Image Credit : Mariana Muñoz-Rodriguez
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