June 24, 2018
New Discoveries of Sacrificed Victims at the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan
INAH archaeologists found an Aztec human skull rack or tzompantli under a colonial period house behind the National Cathedral. The scale of it suggested it once held thousands of skulls. The racks were the size of a basketball court. They were likely built between 1486-1502. They also found skulls that had been stuck together with mortar on towers.
Several thousand skulls had to have been displayed on these structures. INAH has so far collected 180 almost complete skulls and thousands of skull fragments, which are now being meticulously studied. They show that the skulls were defleshed after death, and the decapitations were clean and precise.
75% of the skulls are males between 20-35 years of age. 20% were women and 5% were children. They were in good health. Some may have been slaves sold in markets for sacrifice. This is the same ration as the skulls found at the nearby Templo Mayor. Strontium and oxygen isotopes in their teeth show they are from all parts of Mesoamerica, and lived in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan for some time. Historical accounts show some captives lived with the families of the captors for some time.
The skulls also show intentional dental and cranial modifications that were varied according to the culture they lived in, before being transported to Tenochtitlan. Further scientific studies of the skulls can narrow down the specifics of this whole story by individuals, telling us a lot about the rituals all over Mesoamerica and their genetic diversity.
Science Magazine has the report here with many photos and a video;