Mexico City, London- In the heart of Mexico City, archaeologists have discovered an unearthed tower of human skulls that has raised new questions about the culture of sacrifice in the Aztec Empire after crania of women and children.
Archaeologists have found more than 650 skulls caked in lime and thousands of fragments in the cylindrical edifice near the site of the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, which later became Mexico City.
The tower is believed to form part of the Huey Tzompantli, a massive array of skulls that struck fear into the Spanish conquistadores. Historians relate how the severed heads of captured warriors adorned tzompantli, or skull racks, found in a number of Mesoamerican cultures before the Spanish conquest. But the archaeological dig in the bowels of old Mexico City that began in 2015 suggests that picture was not complete.
Rodrigo Bolanos, a biological anthropologist said: “We were expecting just men, obviously young men, as warriors would be, and the thing about the women and children is that you’d think they wouldn’t be going to war. Something is happening that we have no record of, and this is really new, a first in the Huey Tzompantli.”
Roughly six meters in diameter, the tower stood on the corner of the chapel of Huitzilopochtli, Aztec god of the sun, war and human sacrifice. Its base has yet to be unearthed. In his account of the campaign, a Spanish soldier said he counted tens of thousands of skulls.
Raul Barrera, one of the archaeologists working at the site said 676 skulls had so far been found, and that the number would rise as excavations went on.
The Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples performed ritualistic human sacrifices as offerings to the sun. Their emperors and religiously devoted warriors controlled a large surface expanding from Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, before the Spanish invasion between 1519 and 1521.