A TREASURE trove of Aztec war sacrifices including a child discovered in a holy temple in Mexico City could point to an emperor’s royal tomb.
Archaeologists have unearthed skeletons of a scarified boy dressed as the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli, a stone box with that god’s emblem containing a scarified jaguar and a set of flint knives decorated with pearl, jade and green stone.
Aztec priests placed these offerings more than 500 years ago in a circular, ritual platform that was once at the steps of the temple during the reign of the empire’s most powerful ruler Ahuitzotl.
Specialists believe the tomb could belong to empire’s greatest ruler – making it the first Aztec royal burial found.
Elizabeth Boone, an ancient Mexico specialist at Tulane University, said: “You could have Ahuitzotl in that box.”
It is also the site where the earliest historical accounts describe it as the final resting place for the Aztec kings.
Lead archaeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan: “We have enormous expectations right now.
“As we go deeper we think we’ll continue finding very rich objects.”
The jaguar, which was found in a large rectangular stone box and would have been at the centre of the platform, has raised the most excitement because it could represent Ahuitzotl as a fearless warrior.
Archaeologists believe the jaguar and the boy had their hearts torn out as part of a ritual sacrifice, but tests need to confirm the theory.
The nine-year-old sacrificed boy was found with a wooden war god disk, a jade bead necklace and wings made from hawk bones attached to his shoulders.
Only 10 per cent of the box’s contents have been excavated, but a wealth of riches has already been found.
A spear thrower and an ornately carved wooden disk that was on the jaguar’s back were at the top of the box.
A large amount of shells, red starfish and coral possibly representing the underwater world the Aztecs believed the sun travelled through was also found.
The offerings also included a pink bird, roseate spoonbill, which is associated with warriors and rulers.
Archaeologist Miguel Baez said: “There’s an enormous amount of coral that’s blocking what we can see below.”
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The temple is known today as the Templo Mayor and in its prime it would have been a 15-storey pyramid in the then-Aztec capital Tenochtitlan.
Aztecs believed this shrine was the centre of the universe and had two smaller temples – one on the north side dedicated to the rain god Tlaloc and one on the south to Huitzilopochtil.
All of the artefacts found are aligned with the southern temple.
Who was Ahuitzotl?
Ahuitzotl was the eighth Aztec ruler is known as the greatest military leader during the empire’s time
He more than doubled the Aztec territory in Mexico and conquered groups from the Pacific Coast of Meixco to the western part of Guatelmala.
The leader oversaw the earliest documented case of human-mediated bird introduction in the Western Hemisphere.
He lived from 1486 to 1502.
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