Untouched Tomb of Aztec King on Verge of Discovery?

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The existence of multiple seals suggests that the tomb, if it's there, could be a collective crypt containing the king and his successors, López Luján said.

"Each time they buried a newly deceased [dignitary], they sealed the entrance with a plaster seal," he speculated.

That the seals are unbroken suggests that the potential tomb has not been looted.

If there is a royal tomb behind the seals, López Luján would expect to find the ruler's ashes in stone or ceramic containers as well as the remains of servants, accompanied by personal objects and more offerings from the funeral rites.

The tomb, López Luján says, would not be as large as that of Tutankhamun in Egypt or the Maya funeral chambers of Copán in Honduras, "because the Mexicas [Aztecs] never build arches or vaults. It might be a very small room full of offerings."

(Related: "Ancient Maya Tomb Found: Upright Skeleton, Unusual Location.")

Slow Going

Despite rising expectations, the archaeologist said he and his team must be patient.

Only by working slowly and methodically will the team be able to reconstruct the funerary customs and other artifacts that could shed light on the Aztec economy, political system, and religion as it existed before the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s.

And now the workers must grapple with yet more challenges: the weather and a high water table.

"We have to go very slow," he said, "because now we are in the rainy season."

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