Teotihuacán: the discovery of liquid mercury beneath one of its pyramids fuelled hopes of finding a royal tomb – but what archaeologists did discover was unexpected. Photograph: apomares/Getty Images/iStockphoto
For decades, the hunt for a royal tomb at the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacán has gripped archaeologists trying to unravel the secrets of the kingdom’s extraordinary political power.
It is a mystery investigators thought they were on the verge of solving in 2015, when large quantities of liquid mercury were found amid a treasure trove of precious artefacts in a secret tunnel.
Tiny troughs containing mercury were discovered along the 103-metre (338ft) corridor under the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, the third-biggest temple of the ruined city 35 miles (56km) north of Mexico’s present-day capital.
It was the first time the toxic substance had been found at an ancient site in Mexico, and the discovery fuelled expectations that the search for the tomb was almost over.
But after almost eight years of painstaking excavations inside the pyramid, hopes of finding the buried remains of Teotihuacán’s enigmatic rulers are fading.
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