The world’s newest intrepid tomb raider is a robot.
Archaeologists excavating a ruin in Teotihuacan — a Mesoamerican city of pyramids and temples in central Mexico rescued from the jungle only in the last century — deployed a small camera-equipped bot into a 12-foot-wide corridor that had been deliberately sealed almost two thousand years ago.
The machine revealed images of an ancient tunnel, with a perfectly carved arch and roof that will probably be stable enough for a human to explore.
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Teotihuacan is among the most famous archaeological sites in the Americas. It’s home to various epochs of Mesoamerican civilization and was possibly in its heyday one of antiquity’s largest cities. But historians still puzzle over the identity of the city’s inhabitants and the workings of its mysterious society.
The passage our trusty robot explored is located beneath a temple in Teotihuacan to the famed god Quetzlcoatl — a fierce, all-powerful feathered-serpent deity. A discovery of a tomb of a high priest — and examination of the treasures hoarded within — would allow archaeologists an invaluable glimpse into the living, breathing world that once animated Teotihuacan’s ruins.
Mexico, of course, is no stranger to fascinating subterranean discoveries. Two years ago in the Yucatan, voyaging through temples and underground rockpools, archaeologists reportedly unearthed a possible entrance to the mythic Mayan underworld of Xibalba, or “the place of fear.”
— By Ishaan Tharoor