Tower of 'human skulls' built by Aztecs discovered in Mexico City

WION Web Team
Mexico City Published: Dec 15, 2020, 12:37 PM(IST)

The find brings the total number of skulls featured in the late 15th-century structure, known as Huey Tzompantli, to more than 600. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Archaeologists believe that many of the skulls belonged to captured enemy warriors and that the tower was intended as a warning to rivals of the Aztec empire, which was overthrown by Spanish conquistadors in 1521.

Archaeologists have unearthed new sections of an Aztec tower of human skulls dating back to the 1400s beneath the centre of Mexico City.

The newly uncovered wall is comprised of the skulls of men, women and children who were likely killed during ritual sacrifices to the gods, according to the statement. 

At least three children were discovered among the skulls, identified by their smaller build and developing teeth.

According to the CNN, 119 skulls of men, women and children were found by a team of archaeologists on the eastern façade of the tower that was originally discovered in 2017.

Archaeologists believe that many of the skulls belonged to captured enemy warriors and that the tower was intended as a warning to rivals of the Aztec empire, which was overthrown by Spanish conquistadors in 1521.

Some of the remains could be of people who were killed in ritual sacrifices to appease the gods, according to experts quoted in a statement released by the National Anthropology and History Institute.

"Although we cannot determine how many of these individuals were warriors, perhaps some were captives set aside for sacrificial ceremonies," archaeologist Barrera Rodriguez said.

The tower, 4.7 meters (15.4 feet) in diameter, is thought to have been built around the end of the 15th century.

It is located in the area of the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan in the historic district of modern-day Mexico City.

In total, more than 600 skulls have now been found at the site, which Mexican authorities have described as one of the country's most important archaeological discoveries in years.

"At every step, the Templo Mayor continues to surprise us," Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto said in a statement.

"The Huei Tzompantli is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive archaeological finds in our country in recent years."

The statement noted that in Mesoamerica human sacrifice was seen as a way of ensuring the continued existence of the universe.

For that reason, experts consider the tower to be "a building of life rather than death," it said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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