A total of 23 pre-Columbian stone plaques dating back approximately 550 years, with carvings illustrating such Aztec myths as the birth of the god of war Huitzilopochtli, were discovered by archaeologists in front of the Great Temple of Tinochtitlan in downtown Mexico City, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said.
Bas-relief sculptures on slabs of tezontle (volcanic rock) relate the mythological origins of the ancient Mexica culture through representations of serpents, captives, ornaments, warriors and other figures, the INAH said in a statement.
The pre-Columbian remains are of great archaeological value because this is the first time such pieces have been found within the sacred grounds of Tenochtitlan and can be read "as an iconographic document narrating certain myths of that ancient civilization," archaeologist Raul Barrera said.
The Great Temple was the most important center of the Mexicas' religious life, built in what is today the great square of the Mexican capital known as the Zocalo.
The stone carvings focus on the myths of Huitzilopochtli's birth and the beginning of the Holy War. They were placed facing what was the center of Huitzilopochtli worship, which means that, like the flooring of pink andesite and slabs of basalt, they date back to the fourth stage of the Great Temple's construction (1440-1469), Barrera said.