I booked a trip to see Teotihuacan (my god these words) the ancient pyramids outside of Mexico City. On the hour and a half trip to the pyramids the guide emphatically told me that the ruins are not authentic and that I should go anywhere but here. Well, sorry, we’re on the freaking bus already, amigo. He could have saved me a lot of bother if he’d just said let’s not go before we left. In retrospect I’d have been totally fine with that.
It’s hard to find information about this reconstruction of the pyramids as I imagine the Mexican government doesn’t really like to disseminate bad news about a major tourist attraction.
The Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz insisted that the work of uncovering these pyramids be completed in just 5 years for an international American congress and so he had Leopoldo Bartres dynamite the entire area in an attempt to uncover the recently discovered pyramids which had been pretty much completely buried in jungle and then once they were blasted to smithereens they were reconstructed. Not just the pyramids were concocted, the structures are not shaped like they were originally, but it seems that even the layout of the site is fabricated. There are bits and pieces of the original here and there and the last pyramid was uncovered only later so it is intact. Once you know this, it is easy to see. And my guide who also works the pyramid ruins in Tulum, said, on more than one occasion, actually to the point of annoyance, that every other pyramid in Mexico was excavated carefully leaving the original stucco in tact.
“Bartres’s restoration of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan “grotesque vandalism . . . and . . . because scientific data might have been incorporated into many of the key dimensions, drastically distorting the original shape and size of the pyramid had possibly deprived posterity of some of the most important lessons Teotihuacan had to teach.”
So there’s that. It was a long day. Twelve hours. I have to admit though that I learned a lot.
He said, to prove his point, that the little decorative stones at the bottom here in the concrete are found nowhere else and what would have been the point? These were all covered with stucco.
There is very little stucco on this site but it exists on every other one. Good to know.
Close up of fake recreation
This is some original stucco of a puma or jaguar that somehow survived.
The hike up this nearly killed me