Archaeologists in Mexico have confirmed that the tower made of human skulls isn’t a myth, after all.
The huge tower located in the capital city Tenochtitlan, was constructed by ancient Aztecs. It’s located in Mexico City near the Templo Mayor.
A large group of excavators are reportedly working in the heart of the city in search of truth.
Rediscovered in 2015, archaeologists are yet to reach the base of the tower in their dig, but media reports claim the inlaid skulls are not those of soldiers.
The revelations from recent excavation shows the skulls are from men, women and children, squashing rumors that they were soldiers who died in the line of duty. These people were believed to have been offered as human sacrifices, and are likely from a cross-section of the population.
Reuters reported that the tower is 6 meters in diameter, adding that the edifice was once standing beside a massive temple to Huitzilopochtli, an Aztec god associated with human sacrifice, war, and the sun.
Historians thought the Aztec revelation was a mystery. Initial probes claimed the skulls were those of warriors from opposing groups who died young as sacrificial victims.
However, in the past couple of years, the mystery has widened since archaeologists discovered more skulls belonging to women and children, leading us to the question of why this tower was erected.
The Aztec tower was first discovered by Europeans in the early 16th century, according to memoirs from Andres de Tapia, a Spanish soldier who came to the city with Hernan Cortez’ invading force.
De Tapia described the monument as an edifice covered in tens of thousands of skulls.
With this latest discovery, the Spanish soldier’s account of a historic find may have just been corroborated.
“Something is happening that we have no record of, and this is really new, a first in the Huey Tzompantli,” a biological anthropologist Rodrigo Bolanos told Reuters.
Tzompantli were ceremonial wooden scaffolds used in many ancient cultures of the Americas to display the skulls of human sacrifices. Priests would prepare each skull by drilling two holes in it, then stringing it like a bead on a long cord.
Once a set of skulls had been strung together, the cord would be stretched between two wooden posts, to form one row of skulls among many.
The sight was designed to terrify the Aztec’s enemies, and it certainly worked in the case of Spanish soldiers. Many recorded their terror upon seeing tzompantli in Tenochtitlan.
National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) archaeologist Raul Barrera told Reuters that “the skulls would have been set in the tower after they had stood on public display on the tzompantli.” It appears that the skulls were coated in lime and sunk into the wall of the tower in tidy rows.
The tower could be over 500 years old.
Speaking in an interview with BBC, Archaeologist Lorena Vazquez, also from INAH, said: “In this context where there are many semi-detached skulls, and where you are also seeing a tower on each side made up of skulls, it must have been shocking for the people who saw it.”
The Aztec tower is different from the Skull Tower in Serbia which boasts of 952 skulls.
You may have want to read about San Bernardino alle Ossa, the church with decorations made of skulls and bones.