Unique Aztec Dog Burial Discovered.

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have uncovered twelve dog skeletons whilst excavating in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. Dog burials are a common practice within archaeology, but what stands this particular discovery out from the crowd is that there is no human burial, or even building associated to this burial.


One of the well-preserved dog skeletons found.

The reason why dogs were often found alongside human burials is linked back to the animal’s symbolism in Aztec mythology. It was believed that even after death, dogs still served their masters. The belief was that the dogs helped guide the owner’s soul through the hazardous underworld until they safely reached Mictlan, the resting place of the dead.


The placement of the dog skeleton’s have no pattern, leaving archaeologists wondering what is the significance behind this burial.

The dog’s skeletal remains have been date back to 500 years, and they were well-preserved and most were complete and articulated . Their placement within the burial ground has no discernible pattern to it, leaving the archaeologists wondering what the significance of this burial is, although archaeologists have deduced from the skeleton’s measurements that the dogs are likely to be common breeds as their stature are much taller than the native Mexican breed of Techichi.

Aztec ‘Human Sacrifice’ Remains Found Under Mexico City Subway.

Archaeologists who surveyed a Mexico City subway in order for an extension to be performed have announced they made a startling discovery – unveiling what is thought to be remains of Aztec sacrifices.


One of the human remains found at the excavation site which was thought to be a human sacrifice – with offerings beside them.

The team of archaeologists, led by Maria de Jesus Sanchez from the Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (NIAH), have unearthed a dog’s skull with holes in it. As well as the dog skull, a female’s skull and two male skulls with the same indents were also found in close proximity.

It is thought that these skulls are the remains are from Aztec offerings, due to the bizarre nature of the holes that perforate the skulls. It is thought that these holes would have allowed the skulls to be displayed on a rack, known as a tzompantli, for the public to see. Tzompantli were commonly used within the ancient Aztec world for displaying the severed heads of captured warriors, who were sacrificed as an offering to the Gods.

The skulls have been dated back to between 1350 and 1521, and the discovery of the dog’s skull with such punctures is the first of its kind according to the NIAH, making it a very important find. It is thought that the dog was sacrificed because in some pre-Hispanic beliefs, a dog can accompany its owner in the afterlife.


The human skull, center, and dog skull, top right, that was discovered at the site.

But these skulls weren’t all that was found during this excavation – one hundred burials were also uncovered with the majority of the skeletons being juvenile.


  • NIAH. 2013. SKULLS OF A ‘TZOMPANTLI’ BETWEEN FINDINGS ON METRO LINE 12. Archaeology – Bulletins. Available here.

If you’re new to the realm of archaeological, anthropological and forensic sciences (AAFS), or are a student needing sturdy and reliable references, or wondering “what archaeology or anthropology textbooks to buy?” Check out our new ‘Useful Literature’ page!

Share Post Sign