The solar phenomenon of the “holy city” of El Tajin is revealed

The solar phenomenon of the “holy city” of El Tajin is revealed

In Mexico, an interdisciplinary team of scientists has completed a multi-year study in the holy city of El Tajin. The findings of scientists suggest that one of the reasons for the collapse of this pre-Hispanic cult center could be climate change, due to which the indigenous people lost their age-old connection with the Sun.

The results of the study are described on the website of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) of Mexico. For the first time, experts have combined and analyzed information about the ancient climate and archaeological data collected over 11 years of observations. In recent years, research has been carried out using the LIDAR device – a technology for detecting and measuring objects, including underground ones, using laser scanning.

The work was carried out in the archaeological zone of El Tajin on the territory of the modern Mexican state of Veracruz, where one of the most mysterious cities of Mesoamerica was located a thousand years ago. Previous studies have shown that it was a major religious center that played a very important role in the life of ancient society.

Around the 10th century AD, this city, which was considered sacred, suddenly came to its collapse. In a new study, scientists tested the hypothesis that one of the causes of the collapse could be climate change. It is known that from about 900 AD, noticeable climatic changes affected Europe: a long dry period caused droughts and devastation.

Archaeologists have suggested that something similar could have happened at El Tajin. Laser measurements proved that this city was extremely important for rituals. Scanners helped analyze two of the most important sites: the South Ball Court and the Niche Building. Both buildings are not only the most monumental, but also the youngest. As it turned out, they were built between 800 and 1100 AD.

Scientists started from the idea that these objects were means of contact with divine forces. The scan confirmed that the Niche Building was erected in accordance with the movement of the Sun. The niches themselves helped to see the solar phenomenon – when viewed from the side, an effect lasting seven minutes was created, during which the rising sun, associated with the deity Quetzalcoatl, illuminated each of the seven niches of this building from top to bottom.

This phenomenon could be observed simultaneously by about 300 people, who were located in equal numbers on the eastern and western squares. However, the light effect did not always happen, because in unfavorable weather the luminary “could not convey good news to people who came to ask for the favor of the gods.”

Probably, in such cases, people turned to the ritual ball game, for which the South Stadium was used. It was the most ornate of all 24 sports courts excavated in the city. These sites, as shown by scanning, were arranged in accordance with the sequence of prayers and petitions to the gods.

“In addition to competitive play, in pre-Hispanic times, a ritual ball game was played here, in which the participants asked for a certain service, for example, to stop the floods,” says archaeologist Patricia Castillo Peña. “In return, they had to offer something sacred to the gods, and no nothing is more sacred to a man than his own life.”

Ancient frescoes testify that the best player of the match was sacrificed. In general, the analysis of the radar data proves that the city was built in a clear balance with the forces of nature, including the movement of astronomical bodies. However, at some point this balance was upset. Perhaps the blame lies with climate change, which is why the solar phenomenon disappeared.

The construction of the Niche Building and the stadium indicates that the locals tried to fix everything and bring the city back into harmony with natural phenomena. In fact, an axis was rebuilt, which was designed to establish a connection with the gods through architecture. Apparently, this goal was not achieved, since the city clearly lost its cult significance and was abandoned. By the way, Europeans discovered it only in the second half of the 18th century.

Planet Today

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