Published October 28, 2011
Mexico City – Japanese archaeologist Saburo Sugiyama discovered that the architects of the ancient city of Teotihuacán based their designs on a numerical measure equivalent to 83 centimeters (32.68 inches), Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, reported.
Sugiyama presented the finding during the 5th Teotihuacán Round Table, an INAH-sponsored gathering of experts on the largest city build by indigenous peoples in Mexico.
The researcher said that by making calculations based on the measurements of the pyramids at Teotihuacán, he was able to determine "the constant presence" of the 83-centimeter unit.
Sugiyama, an associate research professor at Arizona State University and professor at Aichi Prefectural University in Japan, said that the stairway, the roof beams and the distance between the sculptures of snakeheads at the Quetzalcoatl Pyramid all use this measurement.
"The roof beam measures 1.66 meters in length, which corresponds to twice the unit I'm suggesting. The same thing occurs with the distance between the snakeheads which is four times the unit, and with the length of the stairway, which 13.2 meters, which is equivalent to 16 times the unit," he said.
"One can also observe this numerical pattern in the pyramids of the Sun and Moon, as well as in the Citadel," he said.
Teotihuacán, located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of the Mexican capital, flourished between the first and seventh centuries and was the second-largest pre-Columbian city in the hemisphere.
The city had a maximum size of 20 square kilometers (7.7 square miles) and was inhabited by 100,000 people, but it is not known who founded it or why it was abandoned.
Sugiyama spoke about the possible symbolism of the Pyramid of the Moon, where human burials and offerings were found during a 1998-2004 excavation project he headed.
The expert said that the pyramid was a sacred temple, at which "they performed ceremonies linked to the celestial movements, the fire-water duality and the rebirth of the day."
Sugiyama made a tunnel into the interior of that structure and discovered up to seven different levels of construction.
In some of those levels he found human remains wearing "necklaces and earrings of green stone with designs of what seemed to be tied cords."
For the Maya, those designs "were ornamental figures linked to the elite or authority, which suggests to us some type of relationship between Mayas and Teotihuacán residents," he said.
At another burial site, the researcher discovered skeletal remains of eagles, jaguars, pumas, wolves, rattlesnakes and rabbits - "fauna linked with war and sacrifice."
That burial site also contained 12 human skeletons with the hands tied, 10 of them decapitated, and the other two with ornaments and a jade awl driven into their shoulders that was used for self-sacrifice.