The pre-Hispanic aqueduct of Texcoco has suffered irreversible damage

Photo: El Universal

El Universal.- In 1539, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, the first bishop of the Mexico dioceses, ordered to destroy part of the sculptures and the architectonic complex built by the emperor poet Nezahualcóyotl at the Tetzcotzinco Hill. 481 years later, there was another damage to the aqueduct, considered one of the most important hydraulic works from pre-Hispanic times that dates from 1200 to 1521 A.D.

And just like 481 years ago, according to historical registries, it was man himself who caused the damage to the aqueduct that was declared an Archeological Monument by Mexico’s Presidency in 2002.

Last July 14, Rosana Espinosa Olivares, Texcoco’s director of Culture, received a message from a neighbor of the Tetzcotzinco Hill region, the place that is home to Nezahualcóyotl’s Baths.

The message explained that a backhoe loader had split the aqueduct used by Nezahualcóyotl to transport water from a spring to the Tetzcotzinco Hill, which is also home to what once was the most important botanic garden in Latin America.

Rosana Espinosa got in touch with Texcoco’s mayor Sandra Luz Falcón to tell her what had happened.

When authorities arrived at the place located in Caño Quebrado, approximately 5 km away from Nezahualcóyotl’s throne and that is part of the Tetzcotzinco Hill archeological site, they noticed the seriousness of the damages.

Under the green hill surrounded by trees, local authorities found the pre-Hispanic vestige split in a stretch that measures from 10 to 12 meters long.

“Neighbors told us they had the intention to adequate and expand some lands that are in a hill so that they were used for crops; they wanted to level the hill as if it were a terrace,” said Texcoco’s Culture director.

Although it was not used for what it was originally meant in times of the Spanish Colonization, Rosana Espinosa says “the historical value for Mexicans and inhabitants of the region is invaluable for, in addition to the King’s Baths, there is also the Queen’s Baths, the King’s Throne, Fountain A, The Models, the Square of Dances, and the Temple to Tláloc, just to mention some structures.

According to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the site’s historical value lies in its vast gardens and its hydraulic system. “However, it was also used as a place for retreat and meditation by Nezahualcóyotl, a center for astronomical observations, and for the commemoration and performing of social, political, and religious rituals.”

Texcoco’s municipal president described the affectations suffered by the hydraulic structure as “irreparable damage.”

But nearby communities do not want to talk about what happened.

Inhabitants walking on roads that connect to the site do not answer questions about the matter and no one mentions where is the area that was damaged.

“People at these towns take care of each other; they say that since they follow their traditions no one is going to tell them what they’re supposed to do, so, no matter how much you ask them, they will not answer,” said a municipal pólice officer working at the San Pablo Ixayoc community.

After the backhoe loader caused the damages to the aqueduct, Texcoco authorities presented a complaint on damage to cultural and historical heritage.

The mayor said Texcoco’s Culture Direction, along with Legal and Urban Development Agency will work with a team of archeologists to assess the damages and find a way to repair them where possible to recover the site.

The council had not given authorization for any works at the San Nicolás Tlaminca community, so Urban Development personnel went to the place to shut down the works made by locals.

The investigation will carry on to find those responsible.

Escaping from the city
“Beautiful and precious place” would be the translation from Náhuatl of Tetzcotzinco and it was not an exaggeration to call this place like that.

Locate 38km away from Mexico City, visitors escape from crowds to avoid COVID-19 and arrive at the Tetzcotzinco Hill to climb the stairs and walk over 2,600 meters above sea level.

At that height, as did the Texcoco sovereign, they can see a great part of the Valley of Mexico. With clear skies, you can see from Lake Texcoco to the high buildings of Mexico’s capital.

The site, considered as one of the greatest hydraulic engineering works of pre-Hispanic times, stands out because of its architecture and impressive geographical beauty, according to INAH.

There is no surveillance at Caño Quebrado,  the place where the aqueduct was damaged. Some plastic tapes put by authorities to limit the affected area are what separate the hydraulic project from unpaved roads around it that were built by locals.

Five INAH guards are in charge of watching the whole Tetzcotzinco Hill area. Before 13:00, one of the guards had already walked twice from the King’s Throne to Caño Quebrado, a distance of some 20 km.

Carlos, A Texcoco inhabitant who regularly visits the Tetzcotzinco Hill with his wife, regretted the current conditions of the pre-Hispanic site.

“If this place was in another developed country, it would be well protected, intact, and here in Mexico, neither authorities nor inhabitants know how to value this pre-Hispanic architectural complex that is a real beauty; to walk here admiring the landscape is priceless,” he said.

“And that considering that INAH (officials) kind of took care of it because it used to be in worse conditions; they repaired the stairs and kind of maintain them, but there are no pólice officers who are in charge of helping those who come and visit. They should implement a cultural and touristic project so that everyone could win,” he said.

Source: El Universal



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