Underwater Cultural Heritage at Nevado de Toluca, Mexico


The Nevado de Toluca is a stratovolcano located to the southwest of the Valley of Toluca in the State of Mexico. It is the fourth highest peak in Mexico with a maximum altitude of 4680 meters above sea level. Inside the crater there are two perennial bodies of water known as the Sun Lake and the Moon Lake at 4200 meters above sea level. In pre-Hispanic times, the societies that lived in the surrounding areas performed rituals and offerings in the volcano. According to some historical sources of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, after the Spanish conquest these ceremonies were carried behind the back of the Christian priests.


At present there are still cultural practices that can be linked somewhat with the ancient Mesoamerican rites that focused on the fertility of the fields, abundant harvests, the right amount of rain and the mild climate. Over time, the interaction of man and the volcano has been recorded through the material culture deposited in different places of the mountain but especially underwater. Archaeological materials deposited inside the lakes are well preserved and are characterized by organic elements. Since 2007, the project “Underwater Archaeology at The Nevado de Toluca” has been studying this important site on land and especially underwater.



The project “Underwater Archaeology at The Nevado de Toluca” has gone to great lengths and has as one of it aims, to increase public awareness as to the importance of the archaeological site specifically among the surrounding local communities. To this end, a project to share information has been implemented that comprises, exhibits, publications of different types, documentaries and conferences

A mobile temporary exhibit was constructed and presented in small villages, most of the times in the local government house. Exhibit was accompanied by the projection of a one hour documentary regarding the project and the site. People, including high school and prep students, were encouraged to participate with questions and comments about the work.

Regarding publication of the results of the archaeological research, there have been two books: “Las Aguas Celestiales”, a general information book that includes chapters on geology, ecology and many other themes to give a total overview of the site, and a scientific book for a more specialized public. A third publication was a comic directed to youth and which was distributed in local schools.



Official web site


Back to top