5 strangest things found inside pyramids
Strangest Things examines Earth’s most remarkable and mysterious objects hidden away in museums, laboratories and storage rooms. Using the latest technology, these artefacts can be rebuilt to uncover their deepest secrets. Strangest Things airs Mondays at 9pm on Sky HISTORY.
When we think of pyramids most of us instantly think of the monumental stone structures of Giza, King Tut and maybe even the sphinx for good measure. And why not? Egypt is home to 138 pyramids, but it’s not the only country in the world to play host to these beguiling structures - there are roughly a hundred or so more pyramids to the south in Sudan.
With that in mind, let’s check out some of the strangest things found inside a pyramid, wherever they are in the world.
1. Cannibalism in La Quemada
Finding human remains inside a pyramid is actually quite passé, but not when some are evidence of a leftover meal, especially when parts of this leftover meal were hung up and put on public display outside the temple walls. Located about 670 km northwest of Mexico City, the grisly events were believed to have occurred around 1,500 years ago by Mesoamerican natives, though who exactly isn’t clear.
Interestingly some scholars have identified La Quemada as the legendary Chicomostoc, a temporary home to the Aztecs while en route to Anáhuac, or even the fabled ‘Land on the Edge of the Water’.
2. Kukulkan’s hidden pyramids at Chichen Itza
Outside of Giza’s pyramids in Egypt, the pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico, might be the most iconic and infamous what with all those human sacrifices to Tlāloc, the god of rain. But since 2016, thanks to a process called electrical resistivity tomography (or electrical resistivity imaging), the Kukulkan pyramid has revealed that it doesn’t just have one internal pyramid under its shell, but two.
The middle pyramid, constructed sometime between 800 and 1000 AD, has been known since the 1930s, but this ‘new’ 10-metre-high pyramid, possibly constructed between 500 and 800 AD, adds a fresh spin to the history of Kukulkan.
3. Teotihuacan's Feathered Serpent Pyramid
Also known as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, this pyramid is about 1,800 years old and has only recently begun to give up its secrets. In 1980, sacrificed human remains were discovered that appear to be as old as the pyramid itself.
The 2003 discovery of an internal secret tunnel that contains a miniature mountainous landscape with tiny pools of liquid mercury, all illuminated by a galaxy of fool-gold stars on the surrounding walls, is a strange site to behold. Also found were crystals shaped into eyes, crocodile teeth made from greenstone and sculptures depicting jaguars, believed to have been left as offerings to the gods.
4. Giza sarcophagus
It’s only right we include at least one offering from Giza, so how about a perfectly realised miniature cedar wood coffin at just 44cm long, that was discovered in 1907 and dated between 664-525 BC? Inside was a tiny embalmed human foetus at only sixteen to eighteen weeks of gestation. Its arms were crossed, and it had been bound with such care that one can only assume the tiny, probably miscarried, remains were of enormous significance to someone important.
5. The Moche Mummy
The Lady of Cao is about 1,750 years old and was discovered in a Moche Pyramid in El Brujo, Peru in 2006. As the title suggested, she was mummified, but via desiccation rather than ritual, and her body was heavily tattooed with snakes, crabs, spiders and fictional creatures.
She was also buried with weapons and jewellery, high-status items which were the sole preserve of powerful men, leading some to speculate she may have been a high priestess. Her remains were found alongside another female body, that may have been ritually killed, to presumably accompany the Lady of Cao on her journey into the afterlife.