Skulls of women and children points to Aztec's practice of human sacrifice.
Archaeologists recently discovered new sections of the Aztec tower of human skulls beneath the center of Mexico City, as well as 119 human skulls, according to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (Inah).
The areas uncovered are the façade and eastern side of the tower, which was believed to be part of the skull rack called Huey Tzompantli, which was for a temple built to the Aztec god of the sun, war, and human sacrifice.
The rack is made of a massive array of skulls that was the fear of the Spanish conquerors when they captured Mexico City in 1521, under Hernán Cortés. The tower was first discovered in 2017 and stands approximately five meters (16.4 feet) in diameter.
The structure is located near the Metropolitan Cathedral which was built over the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, which is now Mexico City.
The Aztecs dominated large parts of central Mexico during the 14th to 16th centuries. They were overthrown when Cortés captured Tenochtitlan in 1521.
According to Mexican culture minister, Alejandra Frausto, “The Templo Mayor continues to surprise us, and the Huey Tzompantli is without doubt one of the most impressive archaeological finds of recent years in our country.”
The three construction phases of the tower, as identified by archaeologists, dates back to between 1486 and 1502.
Anthropologists were surprised to find skulls of women and children among those of male warriors when they first discovered the tower. This raised theories about human sacrifice during the Aztec Empire. Archaeologist Raul Barrera said that “perhaps some were captives destined for sacrificial ceremonies.”
John Verano, a bioarchaeologist at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, said that the discover is “an amazing thing, and just the kind of discovery many of us had hoped for.”
Archaeologists are now studying the skulls in detail, hoping to delve deeper into Mexican rituals and the treatment of the bodies after being sacrificed.
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