Monday, October 16, 2017

Teotihuacan - A photo album

As the rainy season approaches its end in Mexico, I wanted to share a few pictures to convey the beauty and mystery of Teotihuacan.  
I can only recommend to anyone interested in having the best photographic experience of this ancient site to visit in the Fall, when the heavy rain makes the colors come to life and the day alternates clouds and sun. If you arrive early on a weekday, you may also have the chance of being the only visitor there - a truly magical experience which is very well worth the early wake-up. 

View towards the Avenue of the Dead from the Pyramid of the Moon. [Photo by Author]
Platforms along the Avenue of the Dead, with the Pyramid of the Sun in the background. [Photo by Author]
View across the Plaza of the Moon towards the Pyramid of the Sun. [Photo by Author]
Only a small portion of Teotihuacan has been excavated. Several unexcavated mounds dot the landscape around the main pyramid. [Photo by Author]
Another view of the Pyramid of the Sun from across the Plaza of the Moon. [Photo by Author]
The Pyramid of the Moon, with the Cerro Gordo in the background, as seen from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. [Photo by Author]
A strangely deserted Avenue of the Dead looking towards the Pyramid of the Moon. The Cerro Gordo mountain is in the background, still covered in the morning mist. [Photo by Author]
A view of the Pyramid of the Moon from across the Plaza. [Photo by Author]
The Pyramid of the Sun, from the distance across a vast expanse of grass. [Photo by Author]
The monumental stairway of the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpents, with its spectacular sculptured decoration. [Photo by Author]

Monday, October 2, 2017

Join us on our next Expeditions

An Update on Upcoming Expeditions

The objective of this post is to share more details on some of our upcoming expeditions that may help unravel the mystery of the origins of the great and still largely unknown megalithic civilization of the Central Mexican highlands. Many of these locations are of difficult access, in remote or impervious terrain. We need motivated people to help us conduct these expeditions on the ground and document these ancient sites (with photos, videos and aerial images) – many of which have not been published before.  

Anyone interested should contact me in private at the address:

Here is an initial list of sites for investigation, with some preliminary information on their significance to our quest for the lost megalithic civilization.    

1) Exploration of the Sierra de Huautla, Morelos

The construction of the walls of Chimalacatlan in an old postcard drawing [Courtesy:]
We believe that the center of the megalithic civilization of ancient Mexico must be located somewhere in the still unexplored reaches of the Sierra de Huautla, a mountainous and heavily forested area to the South of the State of Morelos. This is where ancient legends located Tamoanchan, the fabulous “place of origin” of all Mesoamerican civilization – a city founded by the Gods themselves. 

In February of 2015 we explored the mysterious ruins of Chimalacatlan in the Sierra de Huautla (Link here). This is a unique megalithic site consisting of immense stone walls and platforms occupying the summit of a hill. For its cyclopean style of construction, Chimalacatlan has been compared to some of the finest megalithic constructions of Peru, and is of a type entirely unknown in Mesoamerica. The age of these ruins is unknown, but early investigators of the site conservatively situated their origin in the 1st or 2nd millennium B.C. More reports have since surfaced on the existence of more extensive structures in the mountains near the modern day town of Huaxtla. These structures have been described as clearly megalithic or cyclopean, consisting of large stone blocks measuring as much as 2 meters in length. Several pyramids, plazas and large stone walls have been reported on the site, compatible with the presence of a large city.  

The goal of the expedition will be to document and map these ruins, collect evidence for the existence of additional unexplored sites in the Sierra de Huautla and investigate their architectural analogies with other megalithic/ cyclopean structures in Mexico, Peru and elsewhere.    

Additional information from the Mexican National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) - Link here

2) The Lost Pyramid of Teopantepec and the “City of the Gods” on the Cerro Colorado

An illustration of the pyramid of Teopantepec, as it stood in 1807 [Dupaix, Antiquités Mexicaines, p.4, Plate 3]
In a previous article (Link here), we identified the Cerro Colorado overlooking the modern day town of Tehuacan, Puebla, as the most likely location of an ancient pyramid known from early 18th and 19th Century documents as Teopantepec (“House of God on the Mountain”). It is possible that the original structure collapsed some time after these early reports were composed, but some remains of its megalithic stone facing may still be found on the Cerro Colorado. Local traditions mention a “City of the Gods” or a “Ciudad Perdida (Lost City)” on the nearly inaccessible summit of the mountain. On the site of this supposed lost city, satellite pictures show a vast rectangular enclosure with what appear to be the remains of an ancient pyramid in the middle. 

The expedition will start from the nearby archaeological site of Tehuacan Viejo, from which a trail leads to the summit of the Cerro Colorado. It can probably be completed as a day-trip from Puebla.   

3) Acatzingo de la Piedra – A monolithic pyramid and cyclopean walls 

A short distance from the town of Malinalco (subject of another article – here), lies the town of Tenancingo and the site of Acatzingo de la Piedra. A monolithic stone pyramid has been recently found on the mountain known locally as the “Cerro de la Malinche”. The pyramid is known as the “Cama de Moctezuma”, and a number of pictures and videos of it exist over the internet. Other pictures show what appear to be portions of megalithic/ cyclopean walls partly covered by forest. 

We will use a drone to map any structures that might exist closer to the summit of the hill, as well as any visible megalithic remains. This expedition can also be completed as a day-trip from Malinalco or Mexico City.   

Additional information from the Mexican National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) - Link here

4) Mexico’s Marcahuasi – The Sacred Valley of Tepoztlán

A satellite view of the Valley of Tepoztlan, with the Popocatepetl volcano in the background [Courtesy Google Earth]
Unbeknown to many, the famous Peruvian explorer Daniel Ruzo, who first documented and publicized the mysterious rock sculptures on the plateau of Marcahuasi, spent the last years of his life in Mexico in what he called the “Sacred Valley of Tepoztlán”. There, he believed that rock sculptures even larger and older than those of Marcahuasi existed in the mountains surrounding the town of Tepoztlán. He documented hundreds of colossal rock sculptures, forming what he called a “hidden blueprint” or a map pointing to the location of a legendary “Hall of Records”. Since the publication of his book “El Valle Sagrado de Tepoztlán”, the valley has however failed to attract a similar interest to its Peruvian counterpart. 
The town of Tepoztlán, with its stunning landscapes and the enigmatic pyramid of Tepozteco, attracts thousands of tourists every year. Only very few of them, however, are aware of the research of Daniel Ruzo. The goal of our expedition will be to document many of the rock sculptures first described and photographed by Ruzo in his book, identifying signs or marks that could point to their artificial rather than natural origin. Because of the easy accessibility of Tepoztlán from Cuernavaca and Mexico City, this can also be completed through a number of day-trips from Mexico City. We will also use a drone to document the rock sculptures from the air and identify any other features not detectable from the ground. 

5) The Mysterious Rock of Apoala

The great 19th Century ethnologist and explorer Hubert H. Bancroft collected the following tradition of the “Flying Gods” of the Mixteca. After a great deluge, two gods appeared to repopulate the Earth: “They made a very sumptuous palace – a masterpiece of skill – in which they made their abode upon Earth…on the highest part of this building was an axe of copper, the edge being uppermost, and on this axe the heavens rested […] This rock and the palace of the Gods were on a mountain in the neighborhood of the town of Apoala in the province of Mixteca Alta. The rock was called ‘The Place of Heaven´, there the Gods first abode on Earth.”  [Hubert Howe Bancroft, The Native Races, Vol. IV] 

Such a rock does indeed exist in the vicinity of the modern day town of Santiago Apoala. Several deep caves associated with the legend exist in the gorges of Apoala, and a number of very curious petroglyphs and Olmec rock-reliefs (one in particular, known as the “Danzante”) are said to exist near the summit of the rock of Apoala. 

We will be looking for remains of ancient structures on or near the summit of the rock of Apoala, which may offer evidence for the existence of a “Palace of the Gods”. We will also investigate traditions of a labyrinth of ancient tunnels in a cave known locally as the “Cueva del Diablo (The Devil’s lair)”.  

Additional information and pictures can be found here.

6) An ancient obelisk and carved reliefs in Axutla, Puebla

A satellite view of the Rock of Huehuepiaxtla (Axutla, PUE), along the Rio Atoyaque [Courtesy Google Earth]
Also in the region of the Mixteca Alta, the village of Huehuepiaxtla (Axutla, PUE) is home to a colossal rocky outcrop known locally as “La Gran Peña (the great rock)”. A number of pictures have been circulating on the internet of ancient carved reliefs and stelae found in the vicinity of the mountain, containing unusual depictions of supernatural beings which were believed to inhabit its summit. It is also said that ancient structures, including a large “stone obelisk” may exist on the summit – although no documentation of these puzzling remains could be found.  

The expedition can probably be conducted as a day-trip from Puebla, with the objective of documenting many of these curious finds and confirm the existence of ancient megalithic structures near the summit of the Rock of Huehuepiaxtla.  

Additional information and pictures can be found here.

7) A journey into the Underworld of Teotihuacan

A large chamber in one of the caves that form the ancient Underworld of Teotihuacan, located a short distance to the East of the Pyramid of the Sun [Photo by Author]
There are reportedly miles of ancient tunnels and interconnected cave systems under the ancient pyramid-city of Teotihuacan. We confirmed the existence of the tunnels and explored a small portion of this labyrinthine network to the East of the pyramid of the Sun in February of 2017 (Link here). Additional tunnel entrances are reported to exist near the palatial complex of Oztoyahualco, near Acolman, on the Cerro Gordo and in the Sierra de Patlacique to the south of the ancient city (these latter apparently carved in a very hard andesite). 

Some of the tunnels are rumored to extend for many miles. Early archaeological reports speak of labyrinthine tunnels leading to vast hollowed chambers and pillared halls deep under the earth, which may have an association with the legendary Chicomoztoc, the “Place of the seven caves” considered to be the ancestral homeland from which emerged the ancestors of the Aztec tribes. 

This expedition is likely to require proper speleological equipment for the exploration of the underground passages. 

8) The mysterious subterraneans of Xochicalco

A portion of an ancient tunnel under the acropolis of Xochicalco [Photo by Author]
A number of ancient tunnels extend under the acropolis of Xochicalco, and there are also rumors of underground chambers and labyrinthine passageways running for many miles all around. Only a small portion of the tunnel system is presently open to the public (near the so-called solar observatory or “Cueva del Sol”). Other entrances can be found on the flanks of the acropolis, which lead to collapsed portions of the tunnel system (some of which we explored in April of 2017) – the tunnels are apparently very regular and are dug through a hard local kind of limestone. During the same trip we also documented large stretches of what appear to be polygonal/ cyclopean walls forming the substructure of the acropolis. The nearby Cerro de la Bodega is also said to contain a number of tunnel entrances.   

This expedition is also likely to require proper speleological equipment for the exploration of the underground passages. 

Link to a previous article on Xochicalco here

9) The Aztec sanctuary on Mount Tlaloc

A 3D reconstruction of the Aztec sanctuary on Mount Tlaloc and the "Ghost Mountain" optical illusion [Courtesy:]
The chief sanctuary of Tlaloc – the Aztec god of rain, was located on the mountain that bears the same name in the vicinity of Mexico City. The sanctuary on the summit, at an altitude of nearly 4,100 meters above sea level, is considered to be among the highest archaeological ruins in the world, and contains a number of significant astronomical alignments, including a long processional ramp and a ruined pyramid-observatory.

A curious optical phenomenon takes place on the summit of Mount Tlaloc during the month of February. Known as the “ghost mountain” (La Montaña fantasma), the phenomenon consists in an apparent optical mirage of a non-existing mountain in front of the peak of Mount Tlaloc.  

The hike to the summit of Mount Tlaloc does not require any special technical equipment, but one night of camping on the mountain is required.  

Additional information and pictures can be found here

10) The search for the Cross of Xaagá 

In a previous article (Link here), we described a mysterious megalithic tomb somewhere in the vicinity of Mitla. The tomb is in the shape of a cross and consists of several immense megalithic stone blocks measuring as much as 6-7 meters long. Several black and white pictures of the alleged tomb exist, dating from the early 1900’s, but its exact location has apparently been lost. If found, the tomb would be one of the largest megalithic structures in the entire American continent. The area is also characterized by the presence of rock art and cave paintings dating back thousands of years. 

One of the few existing pictures of the large cruciform tomb at Guiaroo, dating to the time of the 1902 excavations. Each one of the immense monolithic stone blocks employed in the construction measured over 6 meters long with an estimated weight of nearly 50 tons. The location of this remarkable megalithic structure has apparently been lost. [Photo Saville, 1902]
Another view of the same structure after partial excavation, taken at an angle. [Photo Saville, 1902]
An expert guide will be required for this trek, which can probably be done on horse or mule as a day trip from Oaxaca.  

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mysterious geoglyphs and a new pyramid at Teotihuacan?

New elements in the astronomical design of the site
The Cerro Colorado, as seen from the Pyramid of the Sun. [Courtesy: Google Earth]
The reason for Teotihuacan’s orientation 15.5° East of North has been one of the most enduring mysteries of Mesoamerican archaeology. The only answers so far have come from natural topography. The summit of the Cerro Gordo mountain, to the North-East of Teotihuacan, appears to be aligned to the Pyramid of the Sun if a perpendicular is drawn through its Northern face (Contrary to common belief, the Avenue of the Dead does not point toward the summit of the Cerro Gordo, but rather to a point slightly to the West of it). One nearby summit, the Cerro Colorado Chico, however significantly stands out for its apparent exclusion from the system of topographical alignments that characterize the ancient site. 
The Valley of Teotihuacan, as seen from the summit of the Cerro Gordo, looking South. The Cerro Colorado lies to the right in the picture, with the Patlacique Range in the background along the axis of the Avenue of the Dead. [Courtesy: Google Earth]
This is even more surprising if one considers that the Cerro Colorado is the most prominent elevation in the immediate vicinities of Teotihuacan besides the Cerro Gordo to the North and the Cerro Patlacique to the South. Because the Cerro Colorado is located due West of Teotihuacan, this would make it an excellent, and indeed the only possible natural sunset solsticial marker for an observer located on top of the Pyramid of the Sun. 

As a first step, we set out to investigate the astronomical angles of this alignment: 

  • Cerro Colorado Azimuth from Sun Pyramid: 301.91°
  • Distance from Sun Pyramid (summit-to-summit): 4.17Kms
  • Difference in elevation between Sun Pyramid and Cerro Colorado (summit-to-summit): 240m
  • Angle between Sun Pyramid and summit of Cerro Colorado: 3.294° (calculated)
Because the present Azimuth of the Summer Solstice sunset as observed from Teotihuacan is only 293.5°, the Sun would set some 8.41° to the South of the summit of Cerro Colorado, at a point near its base. 

We then focused on the Moon Pyramid instead, with the following readings:

  • Cerro Colorado Azimuth from Moon Pyramid: 291.64°
  • Distance from Moon Pyramid (summit-to-summit): 3.77Kms
  • Difference in elevation between Moon Pyramid and Cerro Colorado (summit-to-summit): 246m
  • Angle between Moon Pyramid and summit of Cerro Colorado: 3.733° (calculated)
The observed Azimuth of 291.64° is much closer to the target 293.5° (the difference being less than ), which would make the Cerro Colorado a fairly accurate solsticial marker for an observer located on the summit of the Moon Pyramid at sunset. 

The Summer Solstice sunset as seen from the top of the Pyramid of the Moon [Courtesy: Google Earth]
Geoglyphs and a possible pyramid

We explored the summit of the Cerro Colorado using Google Earth in search of possible ancient structures that could have served as astronomical markers to validate the alignment. To our surprise, the images revealed what appears to be a pyramid platform located on top of the mountain, at an altitude of 2,597 meters above sea level. The pyramid measures an apparent 10 meters on each side, consists of two or possibly three superimposed bodies and has what appears to be a stairway facing to the South-East. Interestingly, a line drawn through this stairway points directly towards the summit of the Pyramid of the Sun.  
The location of the possible Pyramid on top of the Cerro Colorado. The building is precisely aligned towards the Pyramid of the Sun, some 4 kilometers away. [Courtesy: Google Earth]
Immediately below the “pyramid”, we also identified an immense geoglyph, measuring over 150 meters in length, also facing the valley and the Pyramid of Teotihuacan to the South-East. The geoglyph consists of three squares delimited by what appear to be dry-stone walls, each containing a glyph and a number of abstract symbols. The rightmost quadrant contains a “X” shape with symbols in the upper and lower portion (the one below resembling the letter “S”). The glyphs in the center and leftmost quadrant are of more difficult interpretation. 
A view of the geoglyphs near the summit of the Cerro Colorado [Courtesy: Google Earth]
There seems to be no mention of structures (either ancient or modern) near the summit of the Cerro Colorado, nor of geoglyphs on its slopes. Even though it is possible that the geoglyphs are of modern origin (drawn by whom and why?), the location of the “pyramid” on the summit of the Cerro Colorado and its alignment to the Sun Pyramid are certainly interesting in light of its possible astronomical significance. 

Only an expedition on the ground can solve the question of whether these are indeed ancient structures and their relationship to the nearby Teotihuacan pyramids.