In Mexico, Aztec dig units new data as royal thriller deepens By Reuters

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© Reuters. A common view of the Templo Mayor the place a number of ritual choices have just lately been discovered simply off the steps of the Templo Mayor, the Aztec empire’s most sacred temple, in Mexico Metropolis, Mexico November 15 , 2022. REUTERS/Henry Romero.

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By David Alire Garcia

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -An in depth cache of Aztec ritual choices discovered beneath downtown Mexico Metropolis, off the steps of what would have been the empire’s holiest shrine, offers new perception into pre-Hispanic non secular rites and political propaganda.

Sealed in stone bins 5 centuries in the past on the foot of the temple, the contents of 1 field discovered within the actual heart of what was a ceremonial round stage has shattered data for the variety of sea choices from each the Pacific Ocean and off Mexico’s Gulf Coast, together with greater than 165 once-bright-red starfish and upwards of 180 full corral branches.

Archeologists consider Aztec monks rigorously layered these choices within the field inside the elevated platform for a ceremony seemingly attended by 1000’s of rapt spectators amid the thunder-clap of drums.

“Pure imperial propaganda,” Leonardo Lopez Lujan, lead archeologist on the Proyecto Templo Mayor of Mexico’s Nationwide Institute of Anthropology and Historical past (INAH), which is overseeing the dig, mentioned of the seemingly spectacle.

In the identical field, archeologists beforehand discovered a sacrificed jaguar dressed like a warrior related to the Aztec patron Huitzilopochtli, the battle and solar god, earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic compelled a greater than two-year pause on excavations.

Beforehand unreported particulars embody final month’s discovery of a sacrificed eagle held within the clutches of the jaguar, together with miniature wood spears and a reed defend discovered subsequent to the west-facing feline, which had bells tied round its ankles.

The half-excavated rectangular field, courting to the reign of the Aztec’s best emperor Ahuitzotl who dominated from 1486 to 1502, now exhibits a mysterious bulge within the center underneath the jaguar’s skeleton, indicating one thing stable under.

“No matter is beneath the jaguar is one thing enormously necessary,” mentioned Lopez Lujan.

“We’re anticipating an important discovery.”

Lopez Lujan, who heads excavations at what’s as we speak generally known as the Templo Mayor, thinks the field may include an urn holding the cremated stays of Ahuitzotl, the emperor whose navy campaigns expanded the empire to modern-day Guatemala whereas linking Mexico’s Pacific and Gulf coasts. However he says no less than one other yr of digging is required to settle the query.

AZTEC WORLDVIEW

Thus far, no Aztec royal tomb has ever been discovered regardless of greater than 40 years of digging across the Templo Mayor, the place greater than 200 choices bins have been discovered.

The temple towered as excessive as a 15-story constructing earlier than it was razed within the years after the 1521 Spanish conquest of Mexico, the rubble serving to obscure lots of the newest finds.

Apart from the central providing containing the jaguar, two further bins had been just lately recognized adjoining to it, with each set to be opened within the subsequent few weeks.

Extra ferocious animals dressed as warriors, maybe adorned with jade, turquoise and gold, are seemingly.

The aquatic choices overlaying the jaguar might signify the watery underworld the place the Aztecs believed the solar sank every night time, or presumably a part of a king’s journey after dying.

Joyce Marcus, an archeologist specializing in historic Mexico on the College of Michigan, says the just lately unearthed choices illuminate the Aztec “worldview, ritual financial system, and the plain hyperlinks between imperial enlargement, warfare, navy prowess and the ruler’s position” in ceremonies that sanctified conquests and allowed tribute to movement into the capital.

“Every providing field provides one other piece of the puzzle,” she mentioned.

Lastly, the skulls of a dozen sacrificed youngsters between one to 6 years outdated had been additionally found in a close-by pit, courting again many years earlier but additionally linked to Huitzilopochtli.

The knowledge obtained from the excavations goes far past incomplete colonial-era accounts that had been additionally coloured by the European invaders’ personal justifications for conquest, in accordance with Diana Moreiras, Aztec scholar on the College of British Colombia.

“We’re actually attending to know the Aztecs on their very own phrases,” she mentioned, “as a result of we’re really taking a look at what they did, not what the Spaniards considered them.”

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