Credit: The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

The Aztecs were a people and a civilization of central Mexico, who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to 16th centuries, until the Spanish arrival.

While human sacrifice was practiced throughout Mesoamerica. The Aztecs seem to have been particularly dedicated to this gruesome practice, according to archaeology.

Now some new archaeological evidence emerges from of Aztec human sacrificial rituals. The finding of a 500-year-old grandiose and macabre ritual in the main temple, in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, the Templo Mayor now found in central Mexico City

There was a special sacrificial stone in the temple. Probably a place where many of the most important Aztec ceremonies took place. Since archaeologists have found 50 skulls and over 200 jawbones around this place.

According to the researchers, these remains derive from ceremonies with human sacrifice. And the discovery surpasses the number of all previous findings of this kind. The skulls and bones come from both men and women, aged between 20 and 35 years. The researchers believe that the victims were beheaded at the sacrifice stone. And after this, their heads were used in connection with various ceremonies.

Model of the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Credit: National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

Five of the skulls were buried under the stone victims, while the other lay in a pile on top of this. The skulls beneath the stone had large holes in the temples, probably so that they could be threaded on a long stick and then applied on a huge wooden tripod – a so-called Tzompantli.

“Some of the 45 skulls were found on top of the stone victims had been processed to produce cranial masks. Such, however, was never finished,” said archaeologist Raul Barrera, who has participated in the excavation.