by Brigit Katz/Smithsonianmag.com
Mexico City stands on the ancient site of Tenochtitlán, which, by the late 15th century, had emerged as the bustling capital of the Aztec Empire. One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods was Temazcaltitlan, known as a spiritual hub for the worship of female deities. Now, thanks to the discovery of a 14th-century steam bath, archaeologists have finally confirmed the mysterious neighborhood’s location.
As George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo, the temazcal, as steam baths are called in the indigenous Nahuatl language, was found near Mexico City’s modern La Merced neighborhood. It is a domed structure, spanning about 16.5 feet long by 10 feet wide, and was made from adobe blocks and stucco-coated tezontle, a type of volcanic rock. According to BBC News, the main components of the temazcal are still intact.
“[Y]ou can see the tub or water pool for the steam bath, as well as one of the sidewalks that were part of it,” says the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in a statement.
Natural hot springs underneath the structure fed into the temazcal.