Several bouquets of offering flowers have been discovered 59 feet below the temple of the god Quetzalcóatl – a pyramid that still stands in the Mexican ruined city of Teotihuacan.
Quetzalcóatl, or ‘Plumed Serpent’ was an important god during ancient Mesoamerica, a historical region that included central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica.
This deity was said to have given maize to humanity and was responsible for the creation of mankind, which may be why offering flowers were uncovered under the god’s temple.
Sergio Gómez, an archaeologist at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, said the stems are in good condition and still tied with the original cotton-made cords.
‘In total there are four bouquets of flowers in very good condition, they are still tied with ropes, probably cotton,’ Gómez told Mexican news outlet La Jornada.
‘This is a very important find because it speaks of the rituals that were carried out in this place.’
Gómez says it is too early to determine what kind they are – but he hopes to solve that mystery soon.
‘Although we do not know the exact date of when they were deposited, because we just took them out this week, they must be very old and correspond to the first phases of Teotihuacan, between 1,800 and 2,000 years ago,’ Gómez explained.
‘We have found complete objects that were placed in this shot; the ceramics are also from the Zacuali and Miccaotli phases, from the beginning of our era, between years zero and 200 after Christ.’
Gómez has been working in the ruined city for nearly 12 years, sifting through ancient soil, rocks and pyramids looking for clues about those who once called the area home.
Some 30 miles (50km) north of Mexico City, Teotihuacan, with its huge pyramids of the sun and moon, is made up of a labyrinth of palaces, temples, homes, workshops, markets and avenues.
The city is thought to have been built in 100BC and existed until the 8th century. Archaeologists consider it one of the most influential in pre-Hispanic North America, with a population of 200,000 at its peak.
However, only 5 per cent of Teotihuacan has been excavated despite more than 100 years of exploration. During excavations, Gómez as recovered more than 100,000 artifacts within the ancient city and specifically under the three pyramids that are still standing.
However, the offering flowers are the first intact botanical materials every to be found at the site.
‘It is very relevant because it will give us indications of the flora that was used for ritual purposes,’ Gómez said.
‘In this same context, while sifting the earth, several kilos of charcoal were found as a result of a ritual ceremony that included the burning of seeds and fruits.’
In 2011, archaeologists uncovered other offerings at the base of the pyramid, including animal remains three human figurines and a haunting, green mask that was used in rituals 2,000 years ago.
Perez Cortez, an investigator with the Zacatecas INAH Center, said in a statement when the mask was discovered: ‘We know [the offerings were] deposited as part of a dedication ceremony.’
The mask was carved from a single jade stone and is the only one of its kind to be discovered in the ancient city.