A group of archaeologists working in Mexico have uncovered an ancient stone shrine that depicts what they believe to be an Aztec design of the universe.
The scientists found the sanctuary at Nahualac, a site at the foothills of the Iztaccihuatl volcano. Along with the shrine, they also discovered ceramic fragments, lithic materials, lapidaries, and organic remains in the area. Almost all of the artifacts are associated with the Aztec rain god Tlaloc.
After studying the artifacts, the team in the study concluded that the placement of stones at the sanctuary is meant to portray a miniature model of the mythical universe as imagined by the ancient Aztecs.
Mesoamerican creation myths state that the world began with no land. Then, the monster of the Earth — known as Cipactli — floated on the primitive waters and used his body to create the Earth and sky. As a result, the control of the water near the site to cause a visual effect that makes it seem like the stones are floating on the surface could represent an image that evokes the primitive waters and the beginning of the mythical time-space.
“The existence of a tetzacualco (shrine) in the middle of a natural pond and the optical effect that occurs when the water mirrors, from which it seems that the structure emanates, suggests that the place is the representation of a primeval time and space, a miniature model of the universe,” the team wrote in their research, according to International Business Times UK.
The Nahualac site is divided into two sections. The first is the pond. The second — which is decorated with ceramic pieces — sits almost 500 feet southeast of the structure, over a wide valley which has a number of natural springs. That gives further credence to the idea that the region depicted the creation myth and shows the importance of water in Aztec civilization.