Egypt: Archeologists discover new temple

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The ancient Teotihuacan settlement was once located around 40 kilometres northeast of Mexico City, but much of it has been built over and hidden from view. But now a new study has revealed that the contours of Teotihuacan are still evident in roads and structures built in the same location 1,500 years later.

The researchers found some spectacular engineering work was done by ancient societies, such as rerouting rivers to match points of astronomical significance, as well as transporting vast amounts of soil and bedrock to shape and structure their city.

Anthropological archaeologist Nawa Sugiyama, from the University of California, Riverside, said: “We don’t live in the past, but we live with the legacies of past actions.

“In a monumental city like Teotihuacan, the consequences of those actions are still fresh on the landscape.

“The LIDAR map provides a snapshot of these ancient features that are being abolished at an alarming rate that would otherwise go unnoticed.

“It’s one of many ways we can preserve our heritage landscape.”

Existing between the years 100 BCE and 550 CE, Teotihuacan was one of the biggest cities of the ancient world.

It covered about 21 square kilometres or eight square miles and was made up of a number of pyramids, plazas, and lots of commercial and residential buildings.

Some of the stunning structures of Teotihuacan can still be seen today, although a lot of them have been lost.

But LIDAR has helped researchers to recover some of those lost structures.

The technology works by reflecting laser light to measure structures and materials underground.

The researchers were able to use a combination of LIDAR, surveys taken on foot, and previously collected mapping data to make comparisons between ancient Teotihuacan and the present day Teotihuacan Valley.

They found that 65 percent of urban areas in the region have property or features that aligned orthogonally within three degrees of 15 degrees east of astronomical north.

This is the same alignment that Teotihuacan was constructed to.

Modern-day rock fences have now been built along the same lines as the now underground ancient walls.

The Teotihuacans had also rerouted rivers and built canals.

The researchers found out that about 16.9 kilometres (10.5 miles) of existing waterways have their origins in the Early Classical Teotihuacan landscape.

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The paper noted: “The Teotihuacan Valley’s unique environmental, cultural, and academic trajectories support a multi-scalar definition of humans as geomorphic agents.”

The researchers estimate that around 372,056 square meters (4,004,777 square feet) of artificial ground had been laid over 300 years across the area.

Altogether, 298 features and 5,795 human-made terraces were unearthed that were not on record, while they also found that more than 200 features that once existed have since been destroyed by mining activities.

The research has been published in PLOS One.

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