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Ancient Aztec palace ruins found in Mexico City

July 14, 2020

Mexican archaeologists have found the remains of the homes of Aztec ruler Axayacatl and Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in Mexico city. The site is located under a historic building on the capital's central plaza.

Mexico I Nacional Monte de Piedad
Image: Wikimedia/Thelmadatter

The remains of an ancient Aztec palace, which later became the home of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, were found by a team of archaeologists under an important landmark building in Mexico City, the Ministry of Culture announced Monday.

"Remains of the Palace of Axayacatl and a house built by order of Cortes have been discovered in Monte de Piedad," the ministry tweeted.

While carrying out renovation work on the Nacional Monte de Piedad building – which dates back to 1755 and is now a historical pawnshop on Mexico city's central plaza – workers came across unusual Basalt slab floors underneath the building.

According to the archaeologists, the floors had been an open area in the palace of Aztec ruler Axayacatl — father of Montezuma, one of the final rulers of the ancient Aztec empire — between 1469 and 1481.

Experts from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said that the area "was part of an open space of the old Axayacatl Palace, probably a patio."

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Home of Spanish conquistador

During the excavation, archaeologists also found evidence of the home Cortes had at the site after the fall of the Aztec empire. They reported that the floor was likely made of materials reused from Axayacatl's palace, which, like other sacred Aztec buildings, was destroyed by the European conquistadors.

Some of the most defining episodes of the conquest of Mexico-Tenochtitlan occurred within the walls of the Old Houses of Axayacatl, such as the death of the tlatoani, or king, Moctezuma Xocoyotzin around 1520.

Mexico's Culture Ministry said that within the palace, "unexpected twists" took place "that undermined the relationship between Mexico and the Spanish and triggered an open confrontation."

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Archaeologists first discovered the ruins around the building's courtyard in September 2017, with excavations and investigations still ongoing to date.

Spanish conquistador Cortes first arrived in modern-day Mexico in 1518 on an expedition to prepare the region's interior for a brutal colonization. Cortes and his entourage sieged and destroyed the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, in 1521, slaughtering local Aztecs and spreading deadly diseases for which the native population lacked immunity.

Cortes' expedition was a key turning point in the fall of the Aztec Empire.

mvb/dr (EFE, AFP)

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