Pyramids of Death

They are some of the biggest pyramids on the planet – millions of tons of stone and earth towering above the landscape in a massive display of wealth and power. But the pharaohs didn’t build these pyramids. This is Mexico – and the truth is, we don’t know who built them… or why. Today, they remain as centrepieces of the majestic ancient city of Teotihuacán, the first major metropolis of the Americas. Home to one of the most powerful civilisations of its time, the city rivalled Shakespeare’s London in size and outlasted ancient Rome. So why, around 750 AD, did the advanced civilisation that created Teotihuacán suddenly vanish? The question has puzzled mankind for centuries – and it’s just one of the many mysteries surrounding Teotihuacán. The identity of its founders, the language they spoke – even the original name of the city – are all unknown. DNA analysis of bodies from Teotihuacán shows they weren’t Mayan, Incan or Aztec, but a different civilisation entirely. With none of the macabre murals dedicated to war that are found in other cultures of Mesoamerica, it was assumed to be a peaceful, utopian society. But the latest discoveries are revealing a much darker scenario. In the depths of Teotihuacán’s pyramids, experts have uncovered vault after vault filled with curious human remains. Could these remains explain why, less than 900 years after its creation, the city was abandoned and its people wiped out? We turn to the bones for answers.

Episode Length: 00:50:00

Year: 2000

Episode: 1

Image by Daniel Schwen is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.


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