Liquid Mercury Discovered Under Ancient Temple May Shed New Light On Teotihuacan

teotihuacan tunnel

More than 10 years after it was discovered, a mysterious tunnel hidden under an ancient pyramid in central Mexico is giving up new secrets.

Archaeologists say they’ve found “large quantities” of mercury at the end of the 340-foot tunnel, which lies under the legendary Temple of the Feathered Serpent pyramid in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, some 30 miles northeast of Mexico City.

“It’s something that completely surprised us,” Sergio G√≥mez, the tunnel’s excavation director, told Reuters, adding that his team does not yet know why the liquid metal was put there.

(Story continues below image).

View of the tunnel with a laser scanner.

Mercury has been found at three archaeological sites in Central America, the Guardian reported. Archaeologists believe it may have had ritual significance, perhaps symbolizing some sort of river to the underworld.

“A few examples have been found in the Maya area, but it is very rare in ancient Mesoamerica,” Dr. George Cowgill, an Arizona State University anthropologist and one of the world’s leading experts on Teotihuacan, who was not involved in the discovery, told The Huffington Post in an email.

Gomez hopes the discovery will point the way to the final resting place of one of Teotihuacan’s rulers. No such burial or ruler has ever been found — which has left archaeologists scratching their heads over how the prehistoric city was governed.

Previous excavations in the tunnel yielded tens of thousands of artifacts, including jewelry, stone sculptures, and arrowheads.

“It may slightly increase the odds of finding a royal tomb, but the uncertainty is what is exciting,” Cowgill said in the email. “Right now it leaves us in a lot of suspense, and we await further developments eagerly.”

At its peak between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D., <a target="_blank" —> Read More

I’m rich. You must be, too.

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in the 1920s. “They are different from you and me.”

“Yes,” his friend and rival Ernest Hemingway replied. “They have more money.”

Hemingway’s retort may be apocryphal, but the point is indisputable. Then as now, the rich have much more money than you and me, and they have more money in part because they don’t give it away. The very wealthy are disproportionately opposed to any policy–including tax policies–that would redistribute wealth more equitably.

This makes sense from a purely economic perspective. Such redistribution policies do not serve the self-interest of those who have, so the wealthy align themselves with political parties that oppose wealth redistribution.

But is there more to it than rational self-interest? Perhaps so, says psychological scientist Rael Dawtry of the University of Kent, UK. Working with colleagues at Kent and the University of Aukland, Dawtry has been studying a psychological mechanism called social sampling, which may play an important part in reinforcing attitudes and policies favoring the preservation of wealth.

Social sampling is one way we all assess the world. We don’t have accurate information about everyone, so we sample from our own social circle. The problem is that this sample of the world may not actually be representative of the larger world, so we get a skewed sense of others’ lives. This, Dawtry suggests, may be going on with wealth. That is, the wealthy live in a rather insular sub-society, where most everyone is affluent. Based on their own experience and their impression of neighbors and colleagues who are just as well off, they calculate that wealth in the larger society is much higher than it is in fact. This misperception gets more distorted the wealthier one becomes, and it leads down the road to distorted —> Read More

A CRISPR antiviral tool

Cas9 is part of the CRISPR genetic defense system in bacteria, which scientists have been harnessing to edit DNA in animals, plants and even human cells. Researchers now demonstrate they can use Cas9 to put a clamp on RNA, which hepatitis C virus uses for its genetic material, rather than change cells’ DNA. —> Read More

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