Archaeologists in Mexico City have uncovered an extraordinary Aztec “Tower of Skulls” a new section featuring 119 human skulls. The discovery adds to the total number of skulls presented in the 15th-century structure, known as Huey Tzompantli, to over 600 human skulls. (Source Hollie Silverman for CNN)
The Aztec Skull Tower was discovered five years ago by archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), and the Aztec Skull Tower is believed to be one of seven that once stood in the capital of Aztec Tenochtitlán. It’s can be found near the ruins of the Templo Mayor, a 14 to 15th-century religious centre devoted to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli and the rain god Tlaloc.
The new skulls are located in the eastern section of the tower and include at least three children’s craniums. Archaeologists are able to identify the children's skulls due to their size and the development of their teeth. Researchers had previously theorised that the skulls in the structure were those of fallen male warriors, but recent studies suggest that some belonged to women and children too. (source: Reuters reported in 2017).
Archaeologists say the tower was built in three separate stages, likely dating back to the time of the Tlatoani Ahuízotl government, between 1486 and 1502. The eighth Aztec king, Ahuízotl, led the Aztec empire in taking parts of modern-day Guatemala, including areas along the Gulf of Mexico. Whilst he was in power, the Aztecs’ territory grew to its largest size, with Tenochtitlán also growing significantly. The great temple of Malinalco was built by Ahuízot and added a new aqueduct to serve the city and instituted a strong bureaucracy. Records describe the sacrifice of 20,000 prisoners of war during the development of the new temple in 1487.
Spanish explorer-soldiers Hernán Cortés, Bernal Díaz del Castillo and Andrés de Tapia express the Aztecs’ skull tower in writings about their exploration of the region. As J. Francisco De Anda Corral reported for El Economista in 2017, de Tapia said the Aztecs positioned tens of thousands of skulls “on a very large theatre made of lime and stone, and on the steps of it were many heads of the dead stuck in the lime with the teeth facing outward.”
Per the statement, Spanish raiders and their allies destroyed parts of the towers when they occupied Tenochtitlán in the 1500s, this caused a scattering of the structure found in and around the area.
Researchers discovered the macabre monument in 2015 when they were reestablishing a building that was on the site of the Aztec capital, according to BBC News. The cylindrical tower of skulls is located near the Metropolitan Cathedral, which was built over the ruins of the Templo Mayor between the 16th and 19th centuries.
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