A Tenochtitlán dwelling

Remains of imposing Aztec building unearthed in Mexico City.

Sensational archaeological discoveries in the heart of Mexico City have revealed many details of the great temples of the sun god Huitzilopochtli and the rain god Tlaloc. They formed the central precincts of Tenochtitlán, the spectacular capital of the Aztec Empire. The once great city is buried under the urban spawl of Mexico City, but occasional finds amplify our knowledge of the ancient capital.


Recent excavations in the Centro area have revealed a building erected between AD 1200 and 1521, once located on the borders of two neighbourhoods. This was an imposing dwelling, covering 400 square metres, located in what was once a residential and agricultural centre.


The remains of channels and a landing platform testify to chinampa farming, based on shallow lake beds nearby. The residential area with its thick adobe floors contained funerary vessels that held the bones of infants. Several nearby burials lay with incense censors, also spinning tools. The excavators also recovered a stone figure standing 60cm tall that depicts a man wearing a loincloth, apparently in the act of throwing something. They believe that the statue was unfinished as it lacks polish, and speculate that it was hidden when the Spanish attacked in 1521.


In late times, the dwelling may have served as a saddlery and ceramic workshop. Part of the site may also have become a public bath during the 19th century, documented from the remains of tiled floors and a drainage system.


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Image: Excavation pit of the Aztec dwelling.

Credit: INAH