Educate Inspire Change

There’s a monument shaped like the ancient Egyptian ‘Ankh’ cross in Mexico

Ankh Cross found in Mexico

Located in Calixtlahuaca, modern day Toluca we find one of the most mysterious monuments ever discovered in Mexico.

Referred to as Monument number 4, Cruz Altar or Tzompantli, the structure shares an incredible similarity with the Ankh cross from ancient Egypt.

The ancient Egyptian symbol means “life,” a symbol commonly used in the iconography the Egyptians.

It is also referred to as a cross (oval-shaped cross, loop, or handle), crux ansata in Latin, the “key of life” or the “Egyptian cross.”

In Ancient Egypt, the Ankh was related to various ancient deities who were represented by bearing this symbol, indicating their power over life and death, their immanence, and condition of the eternal.

The Ankh Cross in Mexico. Image credit

When related to men, it depicts the search for immortality, which is why it is used to describe life or the idea of life after death.

The Ankh was considered as a symbol of rebirth deeply connected to the goddess Isis and to her husband, Osiris. When Osiris was assassinated by his brother, Isis resurrected him with the help of Anubis.

Several pharaohs carried the word “Ankh” in their name, among them Tut-Ankh-Aton (living image of Aton) and Tut-Ankh-Amon (living image of Amun).

Even though the origin of the symbol Ankh remains a profound mystery, if one looks at the evolution of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, it is likely that the “Ankh” was related to the hieroglyphic sign of the ring with a seal.

In ancient Egypt, the hieroglyph is a possible precedent of the Egyptian cartridge, which was used to frame and “protect” the name of the pharaohs by enclosing the symbols of the ruler’s name within it.

And while this was a quick crash course about the Ankh Cross, the fact that this symbols found half-way across the world raises countless questions that have so far remained unanswered.

The archaeological site of Calixtlahuaca is located at about 2,500 meters above sea level, and there are several monuments present on the site.

The Ankh Cross. Image Credit: Richard Cassaro

Of all the structures present on the site structures, we focus on the Tzompantli. A Tzompantli is a type of wooden shelf documented in several Mesoamerican civilizations.

It was used for the public display of human skulls, typically of war captives or other sacrificial victims.

The Tzompantli is scaffold-like construction composed of ‘posts’ in which the heads and skulls of victims were placed after the ancients drilled holes through them.

The Tzompantli present in Calixtlahuaca is a cross altar decorated with skulls; it had several skulls carved in stone embedded in the structure.

Originally there were more than ten, and there are only two original and the replica of a third.

But what makes this construction genuinely mysterious is that it greatly resembles the ancient Egyptian Ankh.

According to Richard Cassaro:

“The Aztecs and the Egyptians were parallel civilizations in numerous ways, despite having evolved on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Both civilizations built pyramids, both utilized the solar symbolism, and both believed in life after death, preparing their dead for a journey to the afterlife via an elaborate and highly-ritualistic ceremony.”

The connection between some constructions found at Calixtlahuaca, when compared to some symbols and structures from Egypt is quite interesting.

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