© Reuters. A common view of the Templo Mayor the place a number of ritual choices have lately been discovered simply off the steps of the Templo Mayor, the Aztec empire’s most sacred temple, in Mexico Metropolis, Mexico November 15 , 2022. REUTERS/Henry Romero.
By David Alire Garcia
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – An intensive cache of Aztec ritual choices discovered beneath downtown Mexico Metropolis, off the steps of what would have been the empire’s holiest shrine, gives new perception into pre-Hispanic non secular rites and political propaganda.
Sealed in stone packing containers 5 centuries in the past on the foot of the temple, the contents of 1 field discovered within the precise middle of what was a ceremonial round stage has shattered data for the variety of sea choices from each the Pacific Ocean and off Mexico’s Gulf Coast, together with greater than 165 once-bright-red starfish and upwards of 180 full corral branches.
Archeologists consider Aztec clergymen fastidiously layered these choices within the field throughout the elevated platform for a ceremony probably attended by hundreds of rapt spectators amid the thunder-clap of drums.
“Pure imperial propaganda,” mentioned lead archeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan when describing the probably spectacle.
In the identical field, archeologists beforehand discovered a sacrificed jaguar dressed like a warrior related to the Aztec patron Huitzilopochtli, the warfare and solar god, earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic compelled a greater than two-year pause on excavations.
Beforehand unreported particulars embody final month’s discovery of a sacrificed eagle held within the clutches of the jaguar, together with miniature wood spears and a reed defend discovered subsequent to the west-facing feline, which had bells tied round its ankles.
The half-excavated rectangular field, courting to the reign of the Aztec’s biggest emperor Ahuitzotl who dominated from 1486 to 1502, now exhibits a mysterious bulge within the center underneath the jaguar’s skeleton, indicating one thing strong under.
“No matter is beneath the jaguar is one thing enormously necessary,” mentioned Lopez Lujan.
“We’re anticipating an important discovery.”
Lopez Lujan, who heads excavations at what’s in the present day often known as the Templo Mayor, thinks the field may include an urn holding the cremated stays of Ahuitzotl, the emperor whose army campaigns expanded the empire to modern-day Guatemala whereas linking Mexico’s Pacific and Gulf coasts. However he says no less than one other 12 months of digging is required to settle the query.
Up to now, no Aztec royal tomb has ever been discovered regardless of greater than 40 years of digging across the Templo Mayor, the place greater than 200 choices packing containers have been discovered.
The temple towered as excessive as a 15-story constructing earlier than it was razed within the years after the 1521 Spanish conquest of Mexico, the rubble serving to obscure most of the newest finds.
In addition to the central providing containing the jaguar, two further packing containers have been lately recognized adjoining to it, with each set to be opened within the subsequent few weeks.
Extra ferocious animals dressed as warriors, maybe adorned with jade, turquoise and gold, are probably.
The aquatic choices protecting the jaguar might signify the watery underworld the place the Aztecs believed the solar sank every evening, or presumably a part of a king’s journey after dying.
Joyce Marcus, an archeologist specializing in historical Mexico on the College of Michigan, says the lately unearthed choices illuminate the Aztec “worldview, ritual financial system, and the apparent hyperlinks between imperial enlargement, warfare, army prowess and the ruler’s function” in ceremonies that sanctified conquests and allowed tribute to circulate into the capital.
“Every providing field provides one other piece of the puzzle,” she mentioned.
Lastly, the skulls of a dozen sacrificed youngsters between one to 6 years outdated have been additionally found in a close-by pit, courting again a long time earlier but in addition linked to Huitzilopochtli.
The knowledge obtained from the excavations goes far past incomplete colonial-era accounts that have been additionally coloured by the European invaders’ personal justifications for conquest, based on Diana Moreiras, Aztec scholar on the College of British Colombia.
“We’re actually attending to know the Aztecs on their very own phrases,” she mentioned, “as a result of we’re truly what they did, not what the Spaniards thought of them.”