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Mexico's Temple of Quetzalcoatl deteriorating rapidly



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Mexico City, Nov 11 (EFE).- The Temple of Quetzalcoatl at the magnificent pre-Columbian complex of Teotihuacan north of this capital has sustained structural damage and its monoliths are exhibiting the effects of total neglect, several experts said.

French archeologist Julie Gazzola said that "every day we lose more of the facade of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent, one of the most important monuments of Teotihuacan cultures. Unless something is done, it could disappear completely in less than 20 years."

The specialist stressed the urgency of investing resources in restoring the structure and controlling the excess humidity that has been plaguing it since the 1980s.

Gazzola, who works on the Temple of Quetzalcoatl research and conservation project, said there is a need to address the causes of the deterioration, including climate, salination and absence of sufficient drainage to release the water the building accumulates during the rainy season.

One solution to the problem of preserving the temple, site of the ancient city's political and administrative authority, is to update the pre-Columbian drainage system, Gazzola said.

The Temple of Quetzalcoatl was discovered in 1917 and constitutes a major expression of Meso-American art.

Its facade features hundreds of sculpted representations of Quetzalcoatl the serpent, a symbol of fertility and renewal, and heads of Cipactli, the mythical crocodile who symbolizes time and creation.

The reptiles appear among currents of water and numerous shells, which were probably originally stuccoed and painted in many colors.

Ilan Vit Suzan, an expert in art conservation, pointed out during a tour that "the deterioration of the building is most obvious in the facade because of its sculptural wealth, although excess humidity is also evident inside the building."

The experts, who have spent two years working at the temple, have already removed all salt from the surface.

Vit Suzan said his team is seeking to gain a more precise understanding of the problem and "begin proposing answers to the humidity problem," which they consider the top factor contributing to the temple's decay. EFE.

Copyright 2005 Efe. All Rights Reserved.

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