working amid the smog and din of Mexico City may be on the verge
of unlocking an extraordinary time capsule.
of a team exploring a site opened up by earthquake damage believe
that they have found the first tomb of an Aztec ruler. If they are
right the site may yield one of the great treasures of antiquity,
the sort of haul that fires the imagination of people far beyond
of the finds has been put on public display but Britain will get
an early preview. Fourteen gold objects from the site will feature
in the British Museum’s exhibition on Moctezuma II, the last
great Aztec ruler. These could prove to be the early pickings of
a much richer harvest. Colin McEwan, head of the British Museum’s
Americas section, said: “There is no question that this has
the potential to be a once-in-a-generation find”.
The dig is
in the middle of what was the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. Near
by stands the Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María,
which was built from the stones of Moctezuma’s Templo Mayor,
which was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521. The temple’s ruins
were subsequently lost for nearly five centuries and discovered
only by accident in 1978. Colonial buildings built around it made
further exploration difficult but an earthquake in 1985 cleared
the way for the present dig.