Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Industrial-scale human sacrifice

Today, I am tired and somewhat out of sorts.

Let’s have a post that reflects my mood:

Feeding the gods: Hundreds of skulls reveal massive scale of human sacrifice in Aztec capital

Death, however, was just the start of the victim’s role in the sacrificial ritual, key to the spiritual world of the Mexica people in the 14th to the 16th centuries.

Priests carried the body to another ritual space, where they laid it face-up. Armed with years of practice, detailed anatomical knowledge, and obsidian blades sharper than today’s surgical steel, they made an incision in the thin space between two vertebrae in the neck, expertly decapitating the body. Using their sharp blades, the priests deftly cut away the skin and muscles of the face, reducing it to a skull. Then, they carved large holes in both sides of the skull and slipped it onto a thick wooden post that held other skulls prepared in precisely the same way. The skulls were bound for Tenochtitlan’s tzompantli, an enormous rack of skulls built in front of the Templo Mayor—a pyramid with two temples on top. One was dedicated to the war god, Huitzilopochtli, and the other to the rain god, Tlaloc. …

Barrera Rodríguez and INAH archaeologist and field supervisor Lorena Vázquez Vallín knew from colonial maps of Tenochtitlan that the tzompantli, if it existed, could be somewhere near their dig. But they weren’t sure that’s what they were seeing until they found the postholes for the skull rack. The wooden posts themselves had long since decayed, and the skulls once displayed on them had shattered—or been purposely crushed by the conquistadors. Still, the size and spacing of the holes allowed them to estimate the tzompantli’s size: an imposing rectangular structure, 35 meters long and 12 to 14 meters wide, slightly larger than a basketball court, and likely 4 to 5 meters high.

Much, much more information, much of it even more disturbing, at the link.

I’ll post something more cheerful later.

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3 Comments Industrial-scale human sacrifice

  1. Pete Mack

    Oh. Also: ugh. Not sure about the end of that article, where it claims a sacred purpose for those remains. “Unholy” might be better. I gotta say, this is one time I have sone sympathy with the Conquistadors.

  2. Rachel

    Yes, Pete, I’d put the “tired and out of sorts” category at something over 90% of everyone this morning. And the other 10% are too young or too old or something to notice the world around them.

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