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7 Photos Of The Treasure That Could Have Belonged To A Forgotten Aztec Emperor

In one of the most astounding Aztec discoveries to date, archaeologists have just unearthed what seems to be the treasure of a forgotten Aztec emperor.

A long time ago, when colonial Mexico City was expanding, people started building a new world over the foundations of the old Tenochtitlán, the capital city of the powerful Aztec Empire. As new buildings buried ancient ones, hundreds of pre-Columbian treasures were hidden beneath the ground. And they were forgotten. 

So, despite the fact that the Templo Mayor (Spanish for "Greater Temple," the main temple of the Mexica peoples in Tenochtitlán, in present-day Mexico City) has been thoroughly explored for decades, there are still amazing discoveries being made to this day. Here are 7 photos of what seems to be the treasure of a forgotten Aztec emperor.

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Photo: National Geographic / Mirsa Islas, courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project.

On a related note: These Floating Islands Made The Aztecs The Most Powerful Empire In The Americas

It was Reuters that recently published the exclusive report of the discovery of a set of offerings that appear to have belonged to an Aztec Emperor. Archaeologists expect that the next finding could be the tomb of the emperor himself. This would mark the first ever discovery of an Aztec tomb, a groundbreaking event in pre-Columbian archaeology. 

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Photo: National Geographic / Mirsa Islas, courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project.

Archaeologists found the complete skeleton of a jaguar adorned as a warrior. It is the presence of this offering as well as that of a child dressed as one of the Aztec deities, precious rocks, and several other priceless artifacts that indicate the chamber was meant for the highest ranking member in society, i.e. the emperor himself. 

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Photo: National Geographic / Mirsa Islas, courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project.

Also take a look at this: Ten Works of Art You Can't Miss On Your Next Visit To Mexico's Anthropology Museum

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The Templo Mayor was originally conceived as the center of the universe, with a profound significance to the Mexica peoples in the region. So it would be hardly surprising that several other treasures were buried in the deeper layers, accumulating over the centuries.

Photo: National Geographic / Mirsa Islas, courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project.

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"The jaguar was dressed as a warrior, with a wooden ring on its back, the anáhuatl (the symbol of the warrior-gods), and armed with a dart and a blowgun, which were also made of wood. The animal was covered with a layer made of corals of four different species, as well as shells, small snails, blowfish, and several starfish from the species Pentaceraster cumingi, which are red in color and live in the Pacific Ocean, 300 km away from Mexico City/Tenochtitlán. There are also two skeletons of ibis birds, associated with kings and warriors slain in war." —Leonardo López Luján, director of the Templo Mayor Project excavation. 

Photo: National Geographic / Mirsa Islas, courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project.

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Photo: National Geographic / Mirsa Islas, courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project.

Photo: National Geographic / Mirsa Islas, courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project.

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You can read more at the Templo Mayor Project official page.

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