Moctezuma’s palace complex – known as the Casas Nuevas, or New Houses to distinguish them from his predecessors’ palaces – is thought to have comprised five interconnected buildings containing the emperor’s office, chambers for children and several wives and even a zoo. The Aztec constructions were razed by the Spanish, who built what is now Mexico City atop their ruins. Experts had long thought Moctezuma’s palace stood roughly on the site where the ruins were found, next door to the National Palace.
The find is “another piece of a puzzle, (and) we hope to find several pieces,” archeologist Elisa Hernandez said. Excavations are planned beneath several parts of the colonial building, which now houses the Museum of Culture. The basalt floor likely belongs to the Casa Denegrida, or the Black House, which Spanish conquerors described as a windowless room painted in black, Hernandez said. The emperor was believed to have reflected there on visions recounted by professional seers and shamans. His reliance on such predictions may have contributed to his downfall, possibly prompting him to initially mistake Spanish conquerors for divine figures.