Archaeologists discover collection of Aztec artifacts beneath Mexico City | History News

Discover a large number of Aztec ritual offerings Down Downtown Mexico City, near the steps of what was once the empire’s holiest shrine, offers new insights into pre-Hispanic religious ritual and political propaganda.

Sealed in a stone box at the foot of the temple five centuries ago round The ceremony stage broke records for the amount of seafood from the Pacific and Gulf Coasts, including more than 165 once bright red starfish and more than 180 full corral branches.

Archaeologists believe that Aztec priests carefully layered these offerings in boxes within elevated platforms for rituals that could have been attended by thousands of rapt spectators to the sound of thunderous drums.

“Pure imperial propaganda,” Leonardo Lopez Lujan, chief archaeologist at Proyecto Templo Mayor at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), said of the possible spectacle.

In the same box, archaeologists had previously found a sacrificial jaguar dressed as a warrior associated with the Aztec patron Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and the sun, in COVID-19 Pandemic This forced the suspension of excavation work for more than two years.

Previously unreported details include the discovery last month of a sacrificial eagle held in the arms of a jaguar, as well as miniature wooden spears and a reed shield found next to the west-facing feline with brass bells tied to its ankles.

The half-excavated rectangular box, dating from the reign of Emperor Ahuitzotl, who reigned from 1486 to 1502, now reveals a mysterious bulge in the middle below the jaguar’s skeleton, suggesting something solid lies beneath.

“Anything under the jaguar is very important,” Lopez-Lujan said. “We look forward to a great discovery.”

Lopez Lujan, who led the excavation of what is known today as the Templo Mayor, believes the box may contain an urn containing the cremated remains of Ahuitzotl, emperor whose military campaigns extended his empire to modern-day Guatemala while linking Mexico’s Pacific and Gulf coasts .

But he said it would take at least another year of excavations to resolve the issue.

An archaeologist unearths ritual offerings of the Aztecs in Mexico City on November 15, 2022 [Henry Romero/Reuters]

Aztec worldview

To date, no Aztec royal tombs have been discovered despite more than 40 years of excavation around the Templo Mayor, where more than 200 offering boxes have been found.

Standing 15 stories high in the years following the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521, the temple was razed and the rubble obscured many of the latest discoveries.

In addition to the central product containing the Jaguar, two other boxes adjacent to it were recently discovered, both due to be opened in the next few weeks.

There may also be more ferocious animals dressed as warriors, possibly adorned with jade, turquoise and gold.

The aquatic offering covering the jaguar may represent the underwater world where the Aztecs believed the sun would sink each night, or it may have been part of the king’s posthumous journey.

Joyce Marcus, an archaeologist at the University of Michigan who specializes in ancient Mexico, said the recent offerings shed light on aztecs “Worldview, ceremonial economy, and the apparent link between imperial expansion, warfare, military power, and the role of the ruler” in the rituals that sanctified conquest and allowed tribute to flow into the capital.

“Each offering box adds another piece to the puzzle,” she says.

Finally, the skulls of a dozen other sacrificed children aged 1 to 6, dating back decades but also related to the god Huitzilopochtli, were also found in a nearby pit.

Diana Moreiras, an Aztec scholar at the University of British Columbia, said the information gained from the excavation goes far beyond the incomplete records of the colonial era, which were also overshadowed by the European invaders’ own justification for conquest. covered up.

“We really understand the Aztecs in their own way,” she said, “because we’re actually looking at what they did, not what the Spanish thought of them.”

Archaeologists unearth Aztec ritual offerings in Mexico City
This Aztec sacrificial ritual is believed to be associated with Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec patron saint [Henry Romero/Reuters]

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