Mexico skull discovery reveals large-scale Aztec human sacrifice
A giant skull rack and two skull towers have been uncovered underneath Mexico City, shedding light on the ritual human sacrifices performed by the Mexican people of Tenochtitlan.
MEXICO CITY — Modern historians have doubted the existence of a massive skull display that 16th century Spanish conquistadors claimed to have seen in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan — until now.
According to Science Magazine, archaeologists at the National Institute of Anthropology and History have uncovered a vast collection of human skulls beneath modern Mexico City, in an area that was once the epicenter of the Aztec empire.
In 2015, the team discovered and began excavating the remains of the tzompantli, an enormous rack of skulls placed in front of the Templo Mayor, and flanked by two towers of mortared skulls.
Both are believed to be part of human sacrifice rituals, which starts with removing a tribute’s still-beating heart. Priests then decapitated the body, cut out the flesh from the head until it’s reduced to a skull, and carved holes into the side to mount the skulls on wooden poles.
The Mexicas performed the ritual as an offering to the gods, and believed doing so would ensure the continued existence of their civilization.
75 percent of the skulls found at the site belonged to warriors — men aged 20 to 35. But 20 percent were found to be from women, and 5 percent were of children.
Researchers have taken DNA samples from the excavated skulls, which they hope can provide more insight into the grisly ritual and its victims.
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