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Mexican archaeologists reveal studies made on sacrificial stone found at Templo Mayor
According to the first anthropological results, most bones corresponded to extremities; they also found 10 skulls, eight of which had been deformed. “In some bones we found evidence of nutritional deficiencies and tuberculosis, as well as periostitis and dental pathologies such as tooth decay and fluorosis”, said the anthropologist. Photo: PAU-INAH.

Translated by: Cristina Perez Ayala

MEXICO CITY.- Some months ago, a stone where human sacrifices were performed was found as part of the archaeological salvage work that has been made by the Program of Urban Archaeology (PAU) from the Great Temple Museum. Today, thanks to numerous studies, we know that the location where the monolith was discovered was not the place where it had been used 500 years ago. It was removed from its original place back in the pre Hispanic era.

According to specialists, this kind of stone was used, in pre Hispanic times, to place a person lying on his back (with an eastern or western direction). Once they were laid down they were sacrificed; their thoracic cage was opened and their heart was pulled out.

Archaeologists Estibaliz Aguayo and Berenice Jimenez, from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said that according to the coded iconography, sacrifices were always made in open spaces, which doesn’t coincide with the site where the otechcatl (nahuatl) stone was discovered, which was next to a wall.

The PAU archaeologists also mentioned that the National Autonomous University of Mexico is conducting studies on the sacrificial stone to determine if there is evidence of human blood; in the same manner, the experts at INAH continue their investigation to determine the original structure to which the stone was associated, in which ceremonies it was used and in honor of what pre Hispanic deities.

Estibaliz Aguayo and Berenice Jimenez detailed that said monolith is directly related to five tzompantli (nahuatl) skulls located under it, “as part of a complex ceremony that included human sacrifices, the placement of these skulls in each of the seven tzompantli that existed in the Sacred Area of Tenochtitlan –according to what was detailed by Brother Bernadino de Sahagun– and finally, the interment of all the materials”.

“Generally they immolated captives, slaves or «images», who where individuals who personified gods, the acted as their recipients”, explained archaeologist Berenice Jimenez.

“After the sacrifice –added Estibaliz Aguayo– they were treated post mortem, they skinned and removed their flesh to make use of the bones; in this case, the skulls that were discovered had been subject to parietal cuts in order to place them in the tzompantli. After a while they were taken away from the wall and exposed to heat in order to remove the muscle, and then they finally were interred”.

Also, Maria Garcia Velasco, a Spanish investigator who has made physical anthropology studies of the skulls, mentioned that, given the first studies in morphology and dental erosion, two of the skulls belong to men between 18 and 30 years of age and the remaining skulls belong to women between 18 and 25. They also found traces of the parietal cut, a product of the elimination of muscular mass and percussion-like perforation in order to make holes by which they hung them.

Also, archaeologist Lorena Vazquez Vallin, from PAU, has given information regarding six earthenware bowls and eight small obsidian knives that were discovered between last August and September. These where probably offered to the circular platform known as cuauhxicalco (nahuatl, corresponding to the fourth building era of the Great Temple, 1440 – 1469). Finally, archaeologist Rocio Morales and physical anthropologist Perla Ruiz referred to a burial –registered in May 2012– corresponding to the fourth building era of the Great Temple (1440 – 1469), which contained 1789 human bones (placed in groups according to typology), an articulate skeleton and a small clay pot.

According to the first anthropological results, most bones corresponded to extremities; they also found 10 skulls, eight of which had been deformed. “In some bones we found evidence of nutritional deficiencies and tuberculosis, as well as periostitis and dental pathologies such as tooth decay and fluorosis”, said the anthropologist.





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