Water may be the key to understanding the mysterious ancient city of Teotihuacan in Mexico, according to new research from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History. Teotihuacan—home to some of the world's largest pyramids and 150,000 people at its peak—shut down around the year 600, the Wall Street Journal reports. Many years later, the Aztecs arrived, giving the city its name and christening the pyramids after the moon, sun, and other gods. But archaeologist Verónica Ortega thinks the Aztecs, like previous scholars studying Teotihuacan, were wrong about the purpose of the ancient city. Instead a place of worship for many gods, Ortega believes Teotihuacan was a place of worship for just one thing: water.
Ortega's excavations at Teotihuacan have revealed canals, sculptures of water gods, seashells, water pitchers, and what appear to be pools. There's also an impressive mural showing streams of water coming from a pyramid. The people who lived in Teotihuacan were mostly farmers who would have to endure months on end without rain. The worshiping of water makes sense. Other archaeologists aren't so sure. They still believe Teotihuacan was a place of worship for multiple deities, including the gods of fire and time. The debate may not be settled any time soon. The Mexican government has cut Ortega's funding in half as oil prices fall. “Maybe we’ll have to wait a bit longer for Teotihuacan to reveal some of its deepest secrets," she says. Read the full story here. (Read more Teotihuacan stories.)