Thanks to the earthquake in Mexico City, a colossal snake head was discovered (4 photos)

Category: Archeology, PEGI 0+
30 October 2023

A stone snake head was found in the historic center of Mexico City last year, after a magnitude 7.6 earthquake occurred on September 19, 2022. It lay at a depth of more than 4 m under the eastern wing of the former law school. The head is about 2 m long and weighs 1.3 tons.

The find is uniquely preserved; dyes are preserved on 80% of its surface, despite the fact that the sculpture is about 500 years old. At that time, the Aztecs controlled this territory, and one of the main gods of their pantheon, Quetzalcoatl, was often depicted as a snake. However, it is unclear whether the found sculpture is related to Quetzalcoatlus.

Other architectural elements were found nearby. The soil here was swampy, with a low oxygen content, which is why the preservation of archaeological finds is so good. The sculpture is covered with remnants of red, blue, black and white dyes that decorate the scales, mouth, eyes and teeth of the snake. This color palette was often used by the Astecs in religious images and temples.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) discovered the snake's head the day after the earthquake. The find had to be lifted by crane, after which it was transported to a conservation laboratory. The pigments made from mineral and plant materials used to paint the sculpture are quite fragile, so archaeologists took special measures to protect the find from the harmful effects of air. A special chamber is built around it, in which constant high humidity is maintained. The humidity will be gradually reduced to allow the snake's head to slowly dry out. This is done to avoid surface cracking and color fading. The process will last until early next year.

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