Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageRemains of Aztec sacrifices found in Mexico's Temple Mayor

By Karen Graham     Mar 25, 2019 in Science
A treasure trove of Aztec sacrifices, including a jaguar richly adorned and dressed like a warrior, was recently discovered in the center of Mexico City and could lead archaeologists to the most attractive find so far: the tomb of an Aztec emperor.
The treasure trove of Aztec artifacts was found on the steps of the Temple Mayor, the main temple, and most sacred of the Mexica peoples in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, in what is now Mexico City. In its glory days, the temple measured approximately 100 by 80 meters (328 by 262 ft) at its base and was almost 15 stories in height.
The Temple Mayor, along with the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was destroyed after the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521.
The offerings were placed there over five centuries ago by Aztec priests, during the reign of the empire’s most powerful ruler Ahuitzotl, in a circular and ritual platform in what would have been the front of the temple, which today sits right next to the bustling Zócalo square in the city.
Model of the Templo Mayor (main temple) of Tenochtitlan
Model of the Templo Mayor (main temple) of Tenochtitlan
s shepherd from durham, nc
What is especially exciting to archaeologists is that the find could be a lead to finding an Aztec emperor's tomb. In all the years of excavating, no one has ever found an Aztec emperor's burial site. "We have never found that and we now have the enormous expectation," the leading archaeologist, Leonardo López Lujan, told Reuters, according to ABC. "We assume as we go deeper we will continue to find very rich objects."
The sacrificial offerings
A jaguar offering was found in a large rectangular stone box with the emblem of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. There was also a set of flint knives decorated with pearl, jade and green stone. Only a tenth of this box has been excavated, but a great many interesting artifacts have been found.
They include a launcher and a carved wooden disc placed on the back of the feline, which was the emblem of the Aztec patron deity Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and sun. There was also a great variety of aquatic offering placed on the Jaguar, which was facing West, toward the Pacific Ocean.
View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual ball ...
View of the archaeological site of the ancient Aztec temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and ritual ball game recently discovered in downtown Mexico City on June 7, 2017
The aquatic artifacts include a large number of shells, bright red and coral starfish. Archaeologists conclude these objects represent the aquatic underworld by which the Aztecs believed the sun traveled to at night, before rising again the next day. A spatulate ibis, a pink bird of the flamingo family, has also been found in the offering. The bird is associated with warriors and rulers.
It is also thought that the spatulate ibis represents the spirits of warriors and rulers as they descend into the underworld. "We can see it once we can remove a huge bed of coral that is visually covering what is below the deposit," said archaeologist Miguel Báez.
Representation of the Aztec (Mexica) god Huitzilopochtli  from the recto of the folio 5 of the Codex...
Representation of the Aztec (Mexica) god Huitzilopochtli, from the recto of the folio 5 of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis (16th century).
Is this the site of the royal burial?
In 2015, Mexico’s INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, or National Institute of Anthropology and History) announced the discovery of a 27-foot long tunnel below the Templo Mayor complex. The tunnel goes into the middle of a circular platform.
It is believed the Aztec rulers were cremated at this site. And up until now, while archaeologists have known the rulers were cremated at death, no tombs have been found. Due to other work being done at the time, the tunnel was covered up until 2016, when the current excavation began.
It is believed that scientists may find the cremains of three Aztec kings, all brothers who ruled from 1469 to 1502. Chronicles write that the cremated remains of the rulers were deposited with luxurious offerings and the hearts of slaves sacrificed near the circular platform.
As a footnote to this archaeological excavation, there are still several months of meticulous work to be completed, but under the new government of Mexico, funding for archaeology projects has been cut by 20 percent. Almost all of the 25 team members have not received payments since December.
More about Archaeology, Aztec, Temple Mayor, sacrificial offerings, Ahuitzotl
Latest News
Top News