If you lived in the elevated safety of the clouds, why would you worship the god of the underworld? That’s just one of the many questions being asked by archeologists on the top of the Cerro de Peña mountain in central Mexico after finding carvings dedicated to the god of the underworld in an area occupied before the Spaniards arrived by a culture known as the “Cloud People.” (No, not THAT kind of cloud!)
“When we reach the top we can see the ceremonial area, that is, where the temples and palaces of rulers were located.”
José Alfredo Arellanes, a researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), was describing to El Universal what he found after climbing for 2.5 hours to reach the peak of the Cerro de Peña mountain, 1,845 meters (6053 ft) above sea level in what is now the state of Puebla. About 2,500 years ago, this was quite possibly the home of people of the Teotihuacan and Zapotec cultures for 1,000 years. And then, in the sixth century CE, long before the Europeans arrived, they abandoned it and the ceremonial area remained hidden by the jungle until Arellanes found its remains. (Photos here.)
“You can see what are inscriptions on the north, northeast and top slopes, those inscriptions are from the ñiuñe script Ñiuñe in Mixteco translates as hot or hot land and it is a unique style.”
Arellanes reveals that he found two steles (free-standing stones) with 87 glyphs either engraved or painted on them. He also found evidence that the area once held seven pyramids and a court for ancient ball games. The inscriptions referred to the Mixtecos, the people living in Mixtecapan (Mixtec country) or Mixtlán (place of clouds) which was thought to cover 40,000 square km (15,444 sq miles) in the current states of Guerrero and Puebla.
“There is a stone carved with an image of an iguana, and just like an eagle, and on the other side of the rock there is a Bat God or God of the Night, just as she has the shape of a woman.”
Gabriel García, a guide for the Archaeological Center, explains that Arellanes found images of creatures of the clouds – and eagle – on the same stele as an image of the Bat God of the underworld. He believes that other archeologists will find more evidence of the Cloud People, but they must first get approval of local authorities like Aracely Garcia, the councilor of the municipality which contains the ceremonial area, who want to preserve it for everyone while protecting it from exploitation.
“Vestiges or images carved in stone is what makes the place special and therefore (we must) invite people to get to know our Archaeological Center, better known as Cerro de la Peña.”
Good idea. The area surrounding Cerro de Peña is home to 6 million people, of which one million are of indigenous cultures. They’ve already been invaded by money-grubbing, artifact-stealing invaders once – this time they plan to protect their heritage legally.