r/history Nov 25 '22

An extensive cache of Aztec ritual offerings provides new insight into pre-Hispanic religious rites and political propaganda — excavations continue in downtown Mexico City, where the empire's holiest shrine was historically situated Article

https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-aztec-dig-sets-new-records-royal-mystery-deepens-2022-11-24/
543 Upvotes

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u/marketrent Nov 25 '22

David Alire Garcia, updated November 25, 2022 00:00 UTC.

Excerpt:

Sealed in stone boxes five centuries ago at the foot of the temple, the contents of one box found in the exact center of what was a ceremonial circular stage has shattered records for the number of sea offerings from both the Pacific Ocean and off Mexico's Gulf Coast, including more than 165 once-bright-red starfish and upwards of 180 complete coral branches.

Archeologists believe Aztec priests carefully layered these offerings in the box within the elevated platform for a ceremony likely attended by thousands of rapt spectators amid the thunder-clap of drums.

 

"Pure imperial propaganda," Leonardo Lopez Lujan, lead archeologist at the Proyecto Templo Mayor of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), which is overseeing the dig, said of the likely spectacle.

In the same box, archeologists previously found a sacrificed jaguar dressed like a warrior associated with the Aztec patron Huitzilopochtli, the war and sun god, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a more than two-year pause on excavations.

 

Previously unreported details include last month's discovery of a sacrificed eagle held in the clutches of the jaguar, along with miniature wooden spears and a reed shield found next to the west-facing feline, which had copper bells tied around its ankles.

The half-excavated rectangular box, dating to the reign of the Aztec's greatest emperor Ahuitzotl who ruled from 1486 to 1502, now shows a mysterious bulge in the middle under the jaguar's skeleton, indicating something solid below.

Besides the central offering containing the jaguar, two additional boxes were recently identified adjacent to it, with both set to be opened in the next few weeks.

Reuters

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u/drauthlin Nov 25 '22

Where could I read more about what we know of their culture? It’s always been so fascinating.

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u/whitelines4president Nov 25 '22

On YT fall of civilizations, their 9th and 10th podcast are about the fall of the Aztecs. Really good.

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u/400-Rabbits Nov 29 '22

The problem with that podcast, and the plethora of media focused on the "fall" of the Aztecs, is that it's essentially starting a story from the end. Such framing often leads to the Aztecs being portrayed as a civilization doomed from the start, as well as privileging the Spanish worldview and making the story about them, the Aztecs more as scenery than actors.

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u/whitelines4president Nov 29 '22

Correct. Although they give a lot of details of the rise too. But the end is focused on the Spanish, true.

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u/400-Rabbits Nov 29 '22

Aguilar-Moreno's Handbook to Life in the Aztec World is a very accessible and comprehensive introduction. It's a few years old at this point, so should be easy to find a used copy for cheap.

If you want something more bite-sized and in the web, Mexicolore (despite it's Web 1.0 appearance) is a great resource. Many of its articles are written by scholars in the field.

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u/Royal_Bumblebee_ Nov 30 '22

thats amazing. there cant be too many times in life when you uncover a jaguar dressed as a warrior. cant wait to see whats underneath