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The terraces above Teotihuacan . . . truly a wonder of the world

The terraces above Teotihuacan . . . truly a wonder of the world


I have also discovered ancient stone circles on Cerro Gordo, identical to those in the Northeast Georgia Mountains!

Cerro Gordo – Just north of Teotihuacan – Some terraces are visible north of the mountain, but the slopes appear to be natural vegetation.

While climbing the steep south slope of Cerro Gordo on July 15, 1970,  I encountered a seemingly endless procession of crude stone walls. Most of the rocks weighed in the range of +/- 50 to 300 pounds (23-136 kg), but at the crest of the mountain I came face to face to what was obviously a hastily erected fortification, composed of much larger rocks . . . weighing perhaps +/- 200-2000+ pounds (91-910+ kg).  Beneath this fortification were thousands of obsidian arrowheads, atlatl points and blades.  In some places were bits of bones in the soil . . . probably human bones, because this wall seemed to have been the scene of an ancient battle.  The stone walls were completely concealed by dense natural vegetation in many locations and certainly invisible from Teotihuacan.  What looks like olive colored grass or weeds in the satellite image above is actually composed of shrubs and small trees up to 15 feet high.  The dark green in the image is composed of trees no more than 25 feet high . . . most not much taller than the olive colored shrubs.

At the time, I presumed that my ordeal of climbing over hundreds of walls as I climbed up the side of a 10,000 feet high mountain was just bad luck on my part in picking the wrong place to climb the mountain.  I was trying to stay pretty much in line with the Avenue of the Dead at Teotihuacan.  As instructed by my faculty advisors at Georgia Tech, Ike Saporta and Julian Harris,  I did make one color slide each of a typical terrace wall and the fortress at the top.  Those two slides stayed in my slide storage boxes for 48 years until . . .  NASA, ERSI and Google made public extremely high resolution satellite imagery of Metropolitan Mexico City in 2018.  That was a game changer.

The two types of walls found on the slopes of Cerro Gordo.  The fortress wall had openings for archers to shoot arrows.

The mountainside was covered in a dense carpet of arid climate vegetation, which concealed the rock walls. Note the wall in the lower left corner.

The satellite imagery, typically available to civilians, gets rather fuzzy as you zoom in on a specific location. On many of those rainy days that we had this winter,  I was working on the videos for the Teotihuacan-Cerro Gordo series.  I zoomed in on the new satellite imagery, installed by ERSI-GIS and was surprised to see many details missing from older versions.  This image was made in the wintertime, when much of the foliage was gone.  You could even see vehicles on the roads. Whereas the top of Cerro Gordo had been in a natural or pastoral state in 1970,  dirt roads now crisscrossed the terrain and there were many more structures associated with the air traffic control center.  I also noticed that thousands of acres of formerly worn-out, abandoned farmland had been planted with nopal (prickly pear) cactus.

Magnifying the satellite image a little more and I was shocked to see that almost the entire mountain was covered with the ancient stone walls that once held agricultural terraces.  Most of the topsoil behind the stone walls seemed to have washed down the mountain,  but scale of the stone walls was mind-boggling.  “Someone” in the ancient past had stacked very large rocks in retaining walls to create over 7,000 acres (2,833 hectares) of cultivated land on an extinct volcano!  As stated earlier, the weights of many of the rocks were equal to or heavier than normal humans of that era. That’s assuming that “normal humans” did this task

This image composes a minuscule portion of the total surface area of Cerro Gordo. The terraces here are about 12 ft. wide.  Note the trail I used.

Terraces on the northern half of Cerro Gordo

Terraces on southern half of Cerro Gordo – shown in 3D

Terraces on the western end of Cerro Gordo

The acropolis of Cerro Gordo

Near the bottom of Cerro Gordo, the agricultural terraces are much wider, but I also found a peculiar stone enclosure.

But there is more!

While roaming around the surface of Cerro Gordo with ERSI GIS software, I came in for some surprises.  Archaeologists are working on a 20,000 square foot temple site, which perfectly aligns with the Avenue of the Dead down below in Teotihuacan (See image above and detail image below.)  I found stone circles like those we are documenting in the Northeast Georgia Mountains.  One of them on the acropolis was oval and the same dimensions as the Alec Mountain Stone Circle in Habersham County, Georgia.   I also found something akin to the Nazca Lines on a hill near the foot of Cerro Gordo. It seems to have an astronomical function.   It is very clear that the story of Teotihuacan is a book still being written . . . with many chapters yet to write!

Large temple site that aligns with Teotihuacan

These stone circles are near the pyramid. The largest one, an oval, is similar to, but not as perfect as the Alec Mountain Circle in Georgia.

This mountaintop composition contains three sets of symbols and probably has an astronomical function.

This is what the pyramid looked like in 1970. It is now surrounded by dirt roads and cleared land.

This is what the same pyramid looks like today on a satellite image.



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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.


  1. ericvasallo@gmail.cOm'

    Great post but you didn’t give info on who is doing the secret dig of the temple? How do you know it isn’t an official dig by INAH?

    • That is federal government land so I am sure INAH is doing the dig. However, I looked all over their website and all they talk about are projects near the pyramids of the Sun, Moon and Quetzalcoatl. I also looked at some videos posted by Mexicans about Cerro Gordo. There is now a state park on top of the mountain, not too far from the archaeological dig, but all of the people in the video warned viewers not to spend the night up in the state park because it was dangerous. My guess is that INAH does not want to publicize the project because there is not enough security on top of the mountain at night to keep out grave robbers. Another security problem is the number of private farms on the mountain today. It was basically uninhabited when I was there, but now there appears to be farm workers up there, who could sneak in at night to rummage for marketable artifacts.


    Richard, Teotihuacan the largest city till the 18th century on this landmass seems to have been a multicultural civilization with peoples connected to both Europe and the Mediterranean bronze age. The volcano worshipers might have remembered a Minoan event in which people used the fertile soil area of the Volcano in which a tobacco insect was found: Santorini and also using the same word for a God: Teo seems to be a connection. Civilization around the Gulf is more ancient than what we have been lead to believe. “In January 1967, the Aluminaut the world’s deepest diving submarine,(of that time) discovered an undersea “road” off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, which extends to depths of 3000 feet and is paved with a layer of magnesium oxide. (cement is a powder made from a combination of alumina, silica, lime, iron oxide and magnesium oxide that have been burned together in a kiln.)”


      Richard, The point I was making is who got here long before the seafaring but primitive Clovis people to make cities and cement roads that go to the ancient shoreline? What is the most ancient peoples name known to the Creeks that lived around the Gulf coast? Thanks for the Great articles.


    This is extremely interesting Richard. It is a pity there are not enough people to guard the excavation in order to prevent people plundering the site. I will be interested to hear how this site develops. I guess you will follow the progress when possible. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • I can’t find any information on the site. Some videos posted on Youtube about Serra Gordo mentioned that there had been several murders on top of the mountain . . . including some young women camping out at the state park. One man stated that the source of the crime is drug dealers, who don’t want strangers hanging around a remote area where they do business.

    • Yes is is . . . but I don’t know what to think about all this. Did people from North Georgia, who made the stone circles migrate to Mexico then their descendants migrated back?


        Richard, according to the histories we have been taught that symbol was found only starting at 800 AD in the South East U.S? That is connected to the people that left from that Mexican city that remembered 3 comet strikes (2 big ones) and then another later in history. Those people perhaps knew of 2 comet strikes in in 9400 BC (carbon dated +- 200 years) and a later one you discovered by Florida. Many of the Creeks could have migrated from Florida/ Georgia / South Carolina to the Mega city during that time period…there some worked as farmers on that mountain till Teotihuacan collapsed.
        I did not find that symbol in any artworks of the ruling class of Teotihuacan so that symbol might be for the Creek workers that headed back to the Coosa / Chattahoochee river on that road spoken of by the Para nobles (who stayed in North Georgia). The stone circles people go way back in time and another connection with that city and Georgia all the way to Virginia….Ireland? Don’t forget the Bronze age people are your people and lived on both sides of the Atlantic.


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