Posts Tagged With: Aztec

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards..cooked and eaten….


MEXICO CITY (AP) — It was one of the worst defeats in one of history’s most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.

Excavations at a site just east of Mexico City are yielding dramatic new details about that moment when two cultures clashed — and the native defenders, at least temporarily, were in control.

Faced with strange invaders accompanied by unknown animals, the inhabitants of an Aztec-allied town reacted with apparent amazement when they captured the convoy of about 15 Spaniards, 45 foot soldiers who included Cubans of African and Indian descent, women and 350 Indian allies of the Spaniards, including Mayas and other groups.

Artifacts found at the Zultepec-Tecoaque ruin site, show the inhabitants carved clay figurines of the unfamiliar races with their strange features, or forced the captives to carve them. They then symbolically decapitated the figurines.

“We have figurines of blacks, of Europeans, that were then intentionally decapitated,” said Enrique Martinez, the government archaeologist leading this year’s round of excavations at the site, where explorations began in the 1990s.

Later, those in the convoy were apparently sacrificed and eaten by the townsfolk known as Texcocanos or Acolhuas .

The convoy was comprised of people sent from Cuba in a second expedition a year after Cortes’ initial landing in 1519 and they were heading to the Aztec capital with supplies and the conquerors’ possessions. The ethnicity and gender of those in the convoy were determined from their skull features.

Some place the number of people in the group as high as 550. Cortes had been forced to leave the convoy on its own while trying to rescue his troops from an uprising in what is now Mexico City.

Members of the captured convoy were held prisoner in door-less cells, where they were fed over six months. Little by little, the town sacrificed, and apparently ate, the horses, men and women.

“The aim of the sacrifices … was to ask the gods for protection from the strange interlopers,” the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.

But pigs brought by the Spaniards for food were apparently viewed with such suspicion that they were killed whole and left uneaten. “The pigs were sacrificed and hidden in a well, but there is no evidence that they were cooked,” Martinez said.

In contrast, the skeletons of the captured Europeans were torn apart and bore cut marks indicating the meat was removed from the bones.

Some of the first European women to set foot in Mexico weren’t treated chivalrously. Along with the men, they were apparently kept in the walled-in spaces for months, with food tossed in, perhaps through small windows. A find last week indicates one woman was sacrificed in the town plaza, dismembered, and then had the skull of a 1-year-old child, who apparently was sacrificed as well, placed in her pelvis, for reasons that were probably symbolic and remain unclear.

While Spaniards later wrote accounts of the massacre that occurred in 1520, a dark year for the conquistadors, archaeologists are finding things they didn’t mention.

“The interesting part is that the historical sources (mainly Spanish chroniclers) didn’t mention the presence of women in the convoy, and here we have a large presence of women” among remains excavated so far, Martinez said.

Fifty women and about 10 children are estimated to have been in the convoy, and all were killed.

The Spaniards’ goods were, on the whole, treated indifferently. A prized and elaborate majolica plate from Europe was tossed into the wells as were the Spaniards’ jewelry and their spurs and stirrups, which were of no use to the Indians. A horse’s rib bone, however, was prized and carved into a musical instrument.

“This seems to be even more spectacular information about an important event of the Conquest … about which we have very little historical documentation,” wrote University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the project. “It does add new dimensions to the acts of resistance of the indigenous people. There is the wrong-headed notion that many of them simply capitulated to the more superior European forces. But it is the victors who write the histories of war.”

The bloodiness of the brief chapter of dominance by the indigenous group is sealed in the second name of the Zultepec ruin site, Tecoaque, which means “the place where they ate them” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language.

When Cortes’ soldiers returned to the town, they found that townspeople had strung the severed heads of captured Spaniards on a wooden “skull rack” next to those of their horses, leading some to think the Indians believed that horse and rider were one beast.

When Cortes learned what happened to his followers, he dispatched a punitive expedition of troops to destroy the town, setting into motion a chain of events that actually helped preserve it.

The inhabitants tried to hide all remains of the Spaniards by tossing them in shallow wells and abandoned the town.

“They heard that he (Cortes) was coming for them, and what they did was hide everything. If they hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t have found these things,” Martinez said.

Cortes went on to conquer the Aztec capital in 1521

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Underwater……..


Photograph by Paul Nicklen
A diver explores a cenote near the Maya ruins of Tulum. A cenote is a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, characteristic of Mexico, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula and some nearby Caribbean islands.. Cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings ….
ruins

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UPDATE:..SKULLS FROM SACRIFICIAL RITUALS FOUND IN TEMPLE…..


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Archaeologists have unearthed gruesome evidence of brutal Aztec rituals by uncovering 50 skulls and over 250 jaw bones at the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City).

Found at one sacrificial stone below a ceremonial platform called the “cuauhxicalco,” the human remains date back more than 500 years and represent the largest number of skulls ever found in one offering.
Used in rituals associated with the worship of Mictlantecuhtli, god of death, the skulls were unearthed in different locations: 45 appeared to have just been dumped on top of the stone, while the remaining five were buried under it.
Each of the five skulls had holes on both sides, suggesting they belonged to a tzompantli. This was a skull rack on which the crania of sacrificed people were hung and displayed near temples or at other locations.

“Some of the 45 skulls found on the sacrificial stone were manipulated with the intention of preparing skull-masks that were never finished,” archaeologist Raul Barrera of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said.

According to the archaeologist, the skulls belonged to women and men between 20 and 35 years old. Some could have been dug up from other sites and reburied.
Looking like a gray headstone, the 18-inch-high, 14 to 17-inch-long and 3-inch-thick sacrificial rock revealed new ways that the Aztecs used skulls in their rituals.

Indeed, sacrificial stones were rarely associated with decapitation.
“Usually people were killed on those stones by cutting open the chest and pulling out the heart,” Barrera said.

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Mexico finds 50 skulls in sacred Aztec temple


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Mexican archaeologists said Friday they uncovered the largest number of skulls ever found in one offering at the most sacred temple of the Aztec empire dating back more than 500 years.
The finding reveals new ways the pre-Colombian civilization used skulls in rituals at Mexico City’s Templo Mayor, experts said. That’s where the most important Aztec ceremonies took place between 1325 until the Spanish conquest in 1521.
The 50 skulls were found at one sacrificial stone. Five were buried under the stone, and each had holes on both sides — signaling they were hung on a skull rack.
Archaeologist Raul Barrera of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said the other 45 skulls appeared to have just been dumped on top of the stone.
The team of archeologists unearthed the skulls and jaw bones in August. They stumbled on them as they were renovating a section of the Templo Mayor in the heart of Mexico City.
Barrera said they believe the 45 skulls were those of women and men between 20 and 35 years old and could have been dug up from other sites and reburied.
Last August, the Mexican government announced experts had found an unprecedented human burial at another spot in the same temple in which the skeleton of a young woman, possibly sacrificed personifying a goddess, was surrounded by piles of nearly 1,800 bones. Another unusual finding this summer was a “sacred tree,” which looks like a battered oak trunk emerging from a well and which experts say was brought from a mountain region for a ritual.
The skulls shown to the media Friday were in good condition but cracked on each side of the head, possibly because of the wooden stake that ran through them so they could be placed in a skull rack.
Barrera said the key in the discovery was the sacrificial rock, which looks like a gray headstone.
“Underneath the sacrificial stone, we found an offering of five skulls. These skulls were pierced with a stick,” he said. “These are very important findings.”
University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the excavation, said it caught her attention that the skulls that had been on the rack, called tzompantli, were buried separately.
“It provides rather novel information on the use and reuse of skulls for ritual events at the Templo Mayor,” Gillespie said in an email.
Also, the common belief about Aztec sacrificial stones is that a person being sacrificed was killed by cutting open the chest and pulling out the heart.
“We normally associate (it) with heart removal rather than decapitation,” she said. “It ultimately gives us a better understanding of how the Aztecs used the human body in various ways in their ritual practices.

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Mass Sacrifice Found Near Aztec Temple



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Sixteen feet (five meters) below street level in Mexico City, archaeologists have found a jumble of 1,789 bones from children, teenagers, and adults along with the complete skeleton of a young woman.

The burial, dating to the 1480s, lies at the foot of the main temple in the sacred ceremonial precinct of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, founded by the Aztecs in 1325. The Aztecs dominated central Mexico until falling to Spanish conquistadores in 1521.

Although several burials with multiple remains have been uncovered previously in this precinct, this is the first that includes human bones from such a wide span of ages.

The discovery offers a rare opportunity to study Aztec funerary rituals and religious beliefs. Few burials from that culture have come to light, most likely because they lie beneath modern buildings.

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