The Templo Mayor was built by the Aztecs as an expression of their beliefs.  When the Aztecs sacrificed people to Huitzilopochtli (the god with warlike aspects) the victim would be placed on a sacrificial stone. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. An archaeological dig on a bustling street behind Mexico City’s cathedral, once the site of the Aztec temple Templo Mayor, uncovered the treasure trove of human sacrifice relics. The victim’s bodies, after being relieved of their heads, were likely gifted to nobleman and other distinguished community members. Reading these accounts hundreds of years later, many historians dismissed the 16th-century reports as wildly exaggerated propaganda meant to justify the murder of Aztec emperor Moctezuma, the ruthless destruction of Tenochtitlán and the enslavement of its people. Why did they carry out such brutal ceremonies? The museum has four floors, thre… The only remaining holdout was the neighboring city-state of Tlaxcala to the east. While it was long theorized that Aztecs only engaged in ritual cannibalism during times of famine, another explanation is that consuming the flesh of a person offered to the gods was like communing with the gods, themselves. The boy was likely between eight and ten years old, and had been dressed as the fearsome god of war himself. Here a specialist priest removed the heart from the victim and threw the body down the steps of the pyramid; and the victim's head was cut off and placed on the tzompantli, or skull rack. Aztec sacrifice through time 14 5. The temple seems to have been the site of many such macabre sacrifices. The museum building was built by architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, who envisioned a discreet structure that would blend in with the colonial surroundings. Terms and Issues in Native American Art. Following on from recent huge discoveries at this grand temple, archaeologists might have unearthed one of … Verano says that across history and cultures, the rise of ritual human sacrifice often coincides with the emergence of complex societies and social stratification. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! They dug a deep pit there, and buried him in an unusual cylindrical box, filled with stones and stucco—the first of its kind that archaeologists report having seen. But in 1913, it was rediscovered beneath Mexico City. The rationale for Aztec human sacrifice was, first and foremost, a matter of survival. Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan According to Aztec sources, as many as 84,000 people, all made captive in wars against their neighbours, were sacrificed on a single occasion to mark the consecration of the Templo Mayor, or Great Pyramid, of Tenochtitlan in 1487. Though some of these have long since worn away, others are recognizably green jadeite, brought from Guatemala, and an unknown blue stone. But in 2015 and 2018, archeologists working at the Templo Mayor excavation site in Mexico City discovered proof of widespread human sacrifice among the Aztecs—none other than the very skull towers and skull racks that conquistadors had described in their accounts. Templo mayor’s stair were used in the rituals of war captives Templo mayor was the main temple of the empire, honoring and worship of the two most important gods to ensure peace of society stairs were used in the rituals of war captive sacrifice and reenactments Archaeologists in Mexico City have found the skeleton of a child at the foot of an ancient temple, believed to been sacrificed to the Aztec god of sun and war. The Templo Mayor is practically the Aztec HQ for human sacrifices. By the late 15th century, the Aztecs had won control over large swaths of central and southern Mexico. (NobbiP / Public Domain ) Top image: Aztec god of the underworld Mictlantecuhtli was depicted as a blood-spattered skeleton or a person wearing a toothy skull. The Templo Mayor or Great Temple (called Hueteocalli by the Aztecs) dominated the central sacred precinct of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Topped by twin temples dedicated to the war god Huitzilopochtli and the rain god Tlaloc it was a focal point of the Aztec religion and very centre of the Aztec world. Racks known as … When the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men arrived in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán in 1521, they described witnessing a grisly ceremony. Sixteenth-century illustrations depict body parts being cooked in large pots and archeologists have identified telltale butcher marks on the bones of human remains in Aztec sites around Mexico City. Archaeologists in Mexico City have found the skeleton of a child at the foot of an ancient temple, believed to been sacrificed to the Aztec god of sun and war. Who was this child, how and why did he die, and what do these many objects reveal? DNA tests of recovered victims from the Templo Mayor site show that the vast majority of those sacrificed were outsiders, likely enemy soldiers or slaves. The young boy’s remains were adorned with beads, jewels and bells. Tenochtitlan was an ancient Aztec city which now lies in the heart of Mexico City. The Templo Mayor consisted of twin pyramids, one for Huitzilopochtli and one for the rain god Tlaloc (discussed below). In October 2017, archaeologists unearthed a rare find, a cylindrical pit specifically dug and lined with volcanic rocks centuries ago for a sacrifice to the gods of the Aztecs. As off-putting as it sounds, Verano says that ritual cannibalism most likely existed among the Aztecs and would have been considered not only normal, but a great honor. The sacrifices played a vital role in the Mexica’s cosmology, and may have also helped the young empire control conquered populations. The main temple of the Aztecs, Templo Mayor was destroyed by Hernán Cortés and his brutal army. According to some estimates, the Aztecs sacrificed up to 20,000 people a year to appease the gods. Also, as hard as it is to imagine, many captured soldiers, slaves and Aztec citizens went willingly to the sacrificial altar. It’s a particularly effective method of intimidating rivals and keeping your own people in line. They’ve unearthed the remains of a child who they believe was sacrificed to the Aztec god of war . The ritual killing of war captives and the large-scale displaying of skulls were visceral reminders of the strength of the empire and the extent of its dominion. “It was a deeply serious and important thing for them,” says Verano. The god of war got his own way by decapitating and eat… The museum of the Templo Mayor was built in 1987 to house the Templo Mayor Project and its finds—a project which continues work to this day. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. Nevertheless, scores were killed.