The mystery of the gruesome Aztec skull masks has been solved


Archaeologists from the US and Mexico have discovered the most likely origin of human life in the pyramid Huitzilopochtli – a religious facility from the ancient Aztec Empire. The study was published in the edition of Current Anthropology. Archaeologists have studied 38 skulls of human victims from the reign of Emperor Ashayakatal, eight of which belonged to men aged between 30 and 45 years and have been modified.

In ancient times, before ritualistic sacrifices were performed, masks were placed on the victims’ faces. Scientists tried to identify the origin of the victims of the atrocities of the Aztecs through the composition of these masks. Now researchers have presented the analysis of eight such artifacts.

Archaeologists compared these masks to 127 others from ritual sacrifices in Tenochtitlan, most of whom were soldiers. The researchers established the sex, age, possible diseases and social identity of these people, but also the ways in which the masks were crafted.

As the research showed, most victims were elite warriors from other tribes or members of the local nobility who sided with opponents. The skulls and masks were discovered about 30 years ago, but their origin has only now become clear.

The Pyramid of Huitzilopochtli (Templo Major) is a complex of temple facilities in the capital of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan. The height of the pyramid is 60 meters, and on top of it were located temples to the god of the sun and war, Huitzilopochtli, as well as the god of rain and fertility, Tlaloc.

The pyramid was built around 1325 and two hundred years later became a religious center of the Aztec Empire. Much of the complex Templo Mayor was plundered and destroyed by Spanish conquerors in 1521.
Today remains from the bottom of Huitzilopochtli are preserved, where archaeologists conduct excavations.