by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner
One Summer In Mexico – Part Fifteen
Cerro Gordo – Estado de México
While in the late 20th century the Mexican government covered the stone ruins, I discovered, with dirt, a new generation of archaeologists are excavating ruins several hundred meters to the west.
The readers may recall from Part 11 that along the crest of Cerro Gordo Mountain, I discovered multiple layers of stone ruins, which appeared to be an ancient mountaintop town. This was important information, because the tradition among indigenous peoples in Central Mexico was that Teotihuacan was founded by giants, who came down from the sky then lived on top of the mountain, looking down on the great city.
After my slides of Cerro Gordo were developed I did a little show and tell at one of our informal lunches at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. There was very little interest . . . even by Dr. Piña Chán. Many of the students didn’t seem to believe that a Gringo architecture student could have climbed Cerro Gordo.
The slides stayed in the same plastic carousel for the next five decades. I showed them a couple of times, while living in Virginia to anthropology students at James Madison University and American University. That is the reason that they were in much better condition than the Mexico slides stored in basements or attics through the years.
In 2018 Google Earth Pro released new super high resolution satellite images of the Mexico City Metropolitan Area. I was astounded to see that all of Cerro Gordo was covered with ancient agricultural terraces. Meanwhile, press releases had been sent out from the Anthropology Department at the Univesidad Nacional Autonimo de Mexico that agricultural terraces had been identified by satellite imagery on Cerro San Lucas, a much smaller mountain to the west of Teotihuacan. Had they not bothered to look at Cerro Gordo?
There was obviously archaeological work underway on the western side of the top of Cerro Gordo, but all the ruins, I had photographed were covered in dirt! I sent an email in Spanish to the INAH with digitized images of the slides made of the stone ruins.
A few days later a female archaeologist, who was working on the sites on the western crest, sent me a pleasant email response in English, plus photos of some of her excavations. She said that NO ONE at the university or in INAH were aware that the stone ruins extended eastward past the Mexican Air Force Radar Station and civilian Air Traffic Control Center. Apparently, not too long after my slide show, someone in the Echeverria Administration ordered the stone ruins of buildings and the fortification wall built of one ton stones . . . covered in dirt, so no one would know. I have no clue why the bureaucrats wanted to keep this site a secret.
That was a game changer. It meant that there was a large town, older than Teotihuacan, on top of Cerro Gordo. However, the area that I photographed is now a Security Zone controlled by the military and off-limits to INAH.
The Mexican public, foreign tourists and apparently even North American archaeologists are totally unaware of the ancient complex of buildings on top of Cerro Gordo. The video below, which completes our sub-series on Teotihuacan, synthesizes my experiences from so long ago with the new information available from remote sensing technology. The result is a starkly different interpretation of the city of Teotihuacan. My conclusion may seem more in the realm of the Twilight Zone TV series, but it in fact, answers all the riddles that conventional archaeology has been unable to solve.
Note: In the year since this video was produced, I have acquired state-of-the-art hardware and software. The new series of videos, which begin in the autumn of 2020 will be much more professional and will include animated films of Native American town sites. However, one must crawl before one runs. The Teotihuacan series was as fast as I could walk with Microsoft Moviemaker software. I think you get my “drift.”