New findings shed light on Aztec sacrifices

A tower of human skulls has been unearthed in Mexico beneath the heart of Mexico City. The finding has raised questions about the culture of sacrifice in the Aztec Empire. More than 650 skulls have been found near the site of Templo Mayor, one of the main temples in the ancient Aztec capital, and they expect the numbers to rise. The Aztec performed ritualistic human sacrifices as offerings to the sun.

The severed heads of captured warriors were displayed publicly and then built into a tower. The tower is six meters in diameter and stood in the corner of the chapel of the Aztec god of the sun, war and sacrifice. Archaeologists believe this site struck fear into the hearts of the Spanish conquistadors when they came to conquer Mexico in 1521 as it was mentioned by one of the Spanish soldiers who accompanied Cortes.

Archaeologists began uncovering the site two years ago. The skulls were caked in lime before they were embedded in the tower. What they found to be really surprising is that they found not only the skulls of young men but also of women and children who wouldn´t have normally participated in a war. This info is really new and changes everything that historians thought they knew about the Aztec culture.

skull (skʌl) – der Schädel

to unearth (ʌnˈɜ:θ) – etw ausgraben

finding (ˈfndɪŋ) – die Entdeckung

sacrifice (ˈsækrɪfs) – das Opfer

site (st) – die Stelle, der Ort

main (mn) – Haupt-, wichtigster

ancient (ˈn(t)ʃənt) – alt, antik

offering (ˈɒfərɪŋ) – die Spende, hier: Opfergabe

to sever (ˈsevəʳ) – etw abtrennen, durchtrennen

to capture (ˈkæpəʳ) – jdn gefangen nehmen

warrior (ˈwɒriəʳ) – der Krieger

to display (dɪˈspl) – etw aushängen, etw anzeigen

diameter (dˈæmətəʳ) – der Durchmeser

corner (ˈkɔ:nəʳ) – die Ecke

conquistador (kɒnˈkɪstədɔ:ʳ) – spanischer Eroberer

to conquer (ˈkɒŋkəʳ) – etw erobern

to mention (ˈmen(t)ʃən) – jdn/etw erwähnen

to accompany (əˈkʌmpəni) – jdn begleiten

to uncover (ʌnˈkʌvəʳ) – etw frei legen, aufdecken

to cake (kk) – etw bedecken, eintrocknen

lime (lm) – hier: der Kalk

to embed (ɪmˈbed) – etw einbetten, einlassen

to participate (pɑ:ˈtɪsɪpt) – an etw eilnehmen