Built by indigenous masons, these 1,500-year-old pyramids are still standing strong, held together by sticky juice from the prickly pear cactus.
By Lina Zeldovich at BBC: From a distance, the grey volcanic rock pyramids and their encircling stonewalls like something that Mother Nature had wrought herself. Located in Cañada de La Virgen (The Valley of the Virgin), an area about 30 miles outside the city of San Miguel del Allende in Mexico’s central highlands, the stone formations blended into the arid, desiccated landscape like a diminutive mountain range.
But as I got closer to the largest of the three structures, there was no doubt it was man-made. A staircase of identical steps, etched into the hard, dark rock, had clearly required a skilled mason’s hand. The other two pyramids, smaller and less well-preserved, bore a similarly unmistakable human touch. The timeworn edifices were erected by a civilization long gone.
Locals had long been aware of the ruins outside their city. Some rumored that there were dead people buried in the stone pyramids, while others spoke of hidden gold. Grave diggers had looted the structures and even tried to blow them up with dynamite, but whether they found any fortunes is not recorded. Unexcavated for centuries, the site remained largely unknown to the world beyond San Miguel del Allende, until a team of Mexican archaeologists started digging deeper in the early 2000s.
Local anthropologist Albert Coffee, who also helped with the excavations, began guiding tours for archaeologically curious visitors like me in 2011. “This is The House of the Thirteen Heavens, built in about 540 CE by the people who lived here at that time,” he said as we walked around the site. He was pointing to the tallest pyramid, which had a rectangular base, sloping sides and a staircase leading up to its flat platform top, about 15m high. “They mined this tufa rock in the nearby quarry.”
The two smaller structures, named The House of the Wind and The House of the Longest Night, were built from the same material, he added. But exactly what ancient society built the site remains an open question, even after more than two decades of excavation. That’s because determining who built the pyramids has proven difficult. “In many ways, this place is still a mystery, and it keeps surprising us,” Coffee said. “We keep finding new information.” More here.
Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Adil Khan, Ajaz Ahmed, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, Dr. Syed M. Ali, G. R. Baloch, Hasham Saddique, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Majid Ahmed, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Mustafa Jivanjee, Nusrat Jamshed, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Hamza, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Ali Ammaar Jafrey, Syed Hamza Gilani, Mushtaq Siddiqui, Shaheer Alam, Syed Hasan Javed, Syed M. Ali, Tahir Sohail, Usman Nazir