“Hey, don’t judge.” We hear those words a lot. But it takes real commitment to say them while staring at 130 thousand murder victims.
Imagine walking into the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan in the year 1519. Situated on an island in the middle of an ancient lake where Mexico City now stands, Tenochtitlan was spectacular, even in a region known for its pyramids and plazas.
But what really caught the attention of the Spanish conquistadors was the tower of human skulls that stood in front of the temple of the Aztec gods. Known as Tzompantli, this gruesome structure reportedly contained the skulls of some 130 thousand victims of human sacrifice, performed to ensure that the sun would continue to rise and rain would continue to fall.
For many years, historians considered Spanish tales of the Aztec tower of skulls exaggerations or fabrications, invented to justify the conquest of Tenochtitlan two years later. That is until 2015, when archaeologists began finding skull fragments under a Colonial-era house in Mexico City.
They have now uncovered hundreds of intact skulls of people who were neatly defleshed and decapitated. Archaeologists are piecing together a picture of a city built around ritual slaughter on an unimaginable scale. They estimate the Tzompantli was over a hundred feet long, forty feet wide, and fifteen feet tall. And as new victims were sacrificed regularly, it was always freshly-stocked. If anything, the old stories fell short of just how monstrous this monument to Aztec religion was.
Now, you’d think we could all agree that human sacrifice is a horrific evil. But the author of the Science Magazine article about this tower of skulls begs to differ. Lizzie Wade took to Twitter to chide her readers for not seeing things from the Aztecs’ perspective!
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