Published On: Sat, Aug 22nd, 2015

Massive Aztec “Tzompantli” (human skull rack) found in Templo Mayor

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Archeologists have discovered a massive ceremonial skull rack from the heyday of the Aztec empire in the heart of Mexico City, a find that could shed new light on how its rulers projected power by human sacrifice, the team said on Thursday August 20th.

The skull rack, known as a “tzompantli” in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, was used to display the bleached white craniums of sacrificed warriors from rival kingdoms, likely killed by priests atop towering temples that once stood nearby.

Dug up behind the capital’s colonial-era cathedral, the as yet partially uncovered skull rack was likely built between 1485 and 1502 and may have been about 112 feet (34 meters) long and 12 meters (40 foot) wide, lead archeologist Raul Barrera said.

Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), speaks to the media as a picture of a skull that was discovered at the ruins of the Templo Mayor Aztec complex is seen above him, during a news conference at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City August 20, 2015.  REUTERS/Henry Romero

Raul Barrera, an archaeologist from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), speaks to the media as a picture of a skull that was discovered at the ruins of the Templo Mayor Aztec complex is seen above him, during a news conference at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City August 20, 2015. (Photo: REUTERS/Henry Romero)

Hundreds of skulls would have been arranged neatly on the wooden poles of the racks, which served to inspire fear and awe.

“The tzompantli had a very specific symbolism,” Barrera told reporters. “With more study, we expect to learn that many of these skulls belong to (Aztec) enemies, who were captured, sacrificed and decapitated in order to be displayed there.”

The warlike and deeply religious Aztecs ruled a sprawling empire that at its height stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean before the Spanish conquest of 1519-1521.

Tzompantli (image: Google)

Tzompantli (image: Google)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

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  1. David says:

    I am in Tijuana right now. Have been for four days now. I enjoy a good culture shock every once in a while, and I certainly found that here. However I feel like I have overstayed my welcome. It would probably be easier to pull a tooth rather than a smile from anyone. Unless you are about to pay someone but that smile disappears real fast. I got a shakedown from a cop today as well to be honest he was really looking for something illegal but i still felt disrespected with all of my personals moved from one spot to another. Again it’s unbelievable how happy I was when I came here and how unhappy I am leaving. Totally looking forward to a genuine smile from a brother in the states. Oh yeah and last night a taxi driver went out of his way to almost hit me. He didn’t partially cause I jumped out of the way and because he stopped just in time. But he was trying to teach me a lesson. Well lesson learned you ruined that night for me so now it’s two good nights and two bad ones. I came down here to get away and have a good time on vacation. Not have half my nights spoiled by a couple of Aholes. So I write this post, one I never intended on writing, do with it what you will. Perhaps two nights is enough, perhaps it’s not even worth that. Just so you know I’m not a spoiled American, I’m Scottish. I’ve lived in Scotland, Italy, Greece, and Spain and of course all over the states.

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