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.

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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.

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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.

References:

  • 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!

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Unusual-ology: Beheaded Massacre Victims Found in 1,400 Year Old Mayan Mass Grave.

Unusual-ology: Beheaded Massacre Victims Found in 1,400 Year Old Mayan Mass Grave.

Archaeologists have discovered a 7th-century mass grave in the Mayan city of Uxul, Mexico. The mass grave contained the dismembered skeletal remains of twenty-four victims. Nicolaus Seefield, from the University of Bonn, who made this discovery has interpreted the skeletal remains as those belonging to prisoners of war and the grave being the site of a Mayan water reservoir.

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The twenty-four dismembered skeletal remains were found within a Mayan water reservoir.

Due to being covered in a layer of clay, the victim’s skeletons were very well preserved enabling fifteen of the twenty-four skeletons to be chronologically aged and sexed. The age of the skeletons ranged between eighteen and forty-two years old, with thirteen of the skeletons being males. From looking at the skeleton’s dentition there is evidence of severe tooth decay and malnutrition, with a few of the skeletons teeth showing evidence of jade tooth inserts. The jade inserts are thought to be a sign of nobility, which could in the future help identify the victims of this massacre.

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A victim’s mandible showing a jade insert within a tooth, which is thought to be a sign of nobility.

The skeletons were badly dismembered with body parts strewn across the floor of the mass grave. Seefield observed ‘complete legs, whose bones were still in the correct anatomical articulation from the hip, to the femur, the kneecaps until the smallest toe-bones. Apart from that I also observed other detached body parts such as severed heads, complete hands, detached feet.’ The skeletal remains also displayed evidence of blunt force trauma on the foreheads, and cuts from sharp Mayan blades on parts of the skull.

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A massacre victim’s skull displaying evidence of the top portion of the skull being cut off.

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A victims foot displaying proper articulation, which means that the foot was severed from the body before being placed in the mass grave.

Seefield has noted the significance of this Mayan find, ‘It is absolutely rare to find such a mass grave in the Maya area. The only other archaeological evidence of such dismemberment of victims was in the site of Cancuén, Guatemala.’

Lead by Dr Nikolai Grube and Dr Kai Delvendakl from the University of Bonn, and Dr Antonio Benavides belonging to the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (NIAH), archaeologists have been excavating this historical Mayan city for the past five years in search of uncovering the origins and collapse of the regional states in the Mayan lowlands. There are already plans in place to excavate the western half of the water reservoir in the hope that more Mayan artefacts.

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Well Preserved Dinosaur Tail Found in Mexico.

A team of archaeologists and students from of the country’s National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) have found a remarkably well preserved fossilised remains of a suspected dinosaur tail, near the town of General Cepeda, Coahuila in northern Mexico. The director of the INAH, Francisco Aquilar, has said that the tail, which has been measured to be five yards long, is the first one of its kind to be found in Mexico. The tail was identified to be belonging to a hadrosaurid ( a duck-billed dinosaur), where it is likely representative of  half the dinosaurs full length.

Top: The fossilised tail remains of the hadrosaur, recently discovered in northern Mexico.  Bottom: A electronic  artist rendering of the appearance of the suspected dinosaur.

Top: The fossilised tail remains of the hadrosaur, recently discovered in northern Mexico.
Bottom: A electronic artist rendering of the appearance of the suspected dinosaur.

But this tail hasn’t been the only fossilised remains of dinosaurs that they have found on this archaeological site. The archaeologists have also found what is suspected to be one of the dinosaurs hips. There have also been numerous dinosaur remains found within the state of Coahuila, with Aguilar noting that they have “a very rich history of paleontology” within that area.

There was an earlier fossilised remains discovery in 2010. The fossilised remains were of a never before discovered dinosaur within the same northern Mexico state as the recently discovered tail. The remains of the Coahuilaceratops, which was aptly named after the place of discovery, was discovered by a research group of palaeontologists from the Utah Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah. The excavation of the Coahuilaceratop marked the unearthing of the first horned dinosaur ever to be discovered in Mexico (News Center, 2010).

References:

Daily Mail. 2013. What happened to the rest of it? Archaeologists discover a 72million-year-old dinosaur tail in Mexican desert. Daily Mail News Online. Click here for an article about the dinosaur tail.

News Center. 2010. First Horned Dinosaur from Mexico. University of Utah. Available here. 

Unusual-ology is a new post type which focuses on weird new articles/science areas that have cropped up and caught my eye.

To read the Unusual-ology post on the Ancient Egyptian use of lettuce as an aphrodisiac, click here, or how male spiders sacrifice themselves to their mate, click here. Looking for an interesting article on the recent vampire burials, and past vampire burials, clickety click here.