The Nevado de Toluca is a volcano located in central Mexico, in the Valley of Toluca. At an altitude of 4680 m, it constitutes the fourth highest peak in the country. Close to the summit, in its crater, there are two lakes, called El Sol y La Luna (Martinez-Carrillo et. al 2017, 1706-1707). The archaeological evidence found in this area shows that this was considered to be a sacred place for the inhabitants in the region. There are remains of a stone building, pottery, obsidian blades, and censers on the shore. Furthermore, the lakes were used as a sacred recipient of offerings. These gifts consisted of a wide variety of artefacts which were possible manufactured exclusively to be deposited in the lakes. Among these, there were wooden sceptres, copal figurines, maguey leaves and thorns, vegetable fibres, baskets, green stone beads and turquoise tesserae (Vigliani 2013, 3).
The Arqueología subacuática en el Nevado de Toluca” Project explored the lakes in 2007, 2010, and 2012. The information obtained during the underwater exploration, provides valuable information about organic materials that usually decay. The unique conditions of the lake, cold water and intense solar radiation, preserved artifacts made with organic raw material (Junco 2010, 43; Martinez-Carrillo et. al 2017, 1707).
The results of radiocarbon dating of the material, shows that ritual activity in the lakes took place from 650 to 1520 AD. These dates correspond the the Epiclassical and Postclasical periods, and point to a long duration of ritual activities in the Nevado de Toluca (Martínez-Carrillo et. al 2017, 1712). This confirms the importance of mountains and water in the Mesoamerican cosmovision, which was shared by the inhabitants of Central Mexico. The mountains were considered to be sacred containers of water, seeds, and all sustenance. Therefore, the Nevado the Toluca would be an ideal place of worship, where Mesoamericans could offer gifts to the deities.
The preservation of this maritime heritage site is at risk because the area is not protected by the INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History), as it has not been declared to be an archaeological site yet. This has resulted in looting of archaeological remains by sport divers in the last decades. Furthermore, there has been extensive deforestation in the volcano which needs to be controlled.
Undoubtedly, the recent research projects carried out at the Nevado de Toluca will create awareness of the importance of its preservation.
By; Ivonne E. Athie Islas