MEXICO CITY – 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 jawbones in August. They stumbled upon 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.
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.”