Researchers have discovered liquid mercury in a tunnel underneath a pyramid at Teotihuacan, Mexico, a finding that could indicate that sealed chambers beneath the monument contain the tomb of an ancient king.
Mexican researcher Sergio Gómez and his team announced the finding on Friday, according to the Guardian, noting that they had uncovered “large quantities” of liquid mercury under the pyramid. A toxic metal, mercury had no readily apparent uses for the ancient civilizations that constructed mesoamerican pyramids, but it has been found at three other excavations, two Maya and one Olmec, in the past.
Researchers theorize that the liquid mercury could have symbolized an underworld lake or river, due in large part to its reflective qualities. According to Annabeth Headreck, a professor at the University of Denver, the liquid metal’s appearance could resemble a supernatural river that would serve as a gateway to the underworld, not unlike the river Styx.
“Mirrors were considered a way to look into the supernatural world, they were a way to divine what might happen in the future,” she asserted. “It could be a sort of river, albeit a pretty spectacular one.”
Gómez has been working to excavate the tunnel and chambers under the pyramid for six years, according to Yahoo News, at a city which was once the largest in the Americas. The tunnel is situated under Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent, and Gómez’s team is working to excavate three chambers at its end. Gómez believes that deeper within these chambers the archaeologists will find the tomb of an as-yet-unnamed king, shedding light on the mysterious civilization which built the city.
The excavations have so far turned up a variety of artifacts, including stone sculptures, fine jewelry, and giant seashells, as the Inquisitr has previously reported. Adverse conditions, however, have slowed the pace of excavation. Researchers have been forced to contend with extreme humidity and mud in the course of their work, and will now be required to wear protective suits to shield them from the caustic effects of the liquid mercury.
Gómez expects the excavation of the chambers to be completed by October, with a full announcement of findings under the pyramid to be made by the end of 2015, despite the hindering presence of liquid mercury at the site.
[Image: Reuters via the Daily Mail]