Trove of Ancient Skulls Found in Mexico: Mass Sacrifice?
2013-01-28 0:00

By Elizabeth Leafloor |

A grisly discovery has been unearthed in Mexico. A trove of skulls, dating back to between A.D. 600 and 850, have been found without their bodies in what archaeologists suggest was a mass human sacrifice.


The find, described in the January issue of the journal Latin American Antiquity, was located in an otherwise empty field that once held a vast lake, but was miles from the nearest major city of the day, said study co-author Christopher Morehart, an archaeologist at Georgia State University.

"It’s absolutely remarkable to think about this little nothing on the landscape having potentially evidence of the largest mass human sacrifice in ancient Meso-America," Morehart said.

Morehart apparently stumbled upon the find, located in what is essentially now farmland, where there had been evidence of looting. The skulls themselves often have only one or two vertebra attached, and of the few examined so far, are predominantly male.
Along with the 150 or more skulls were a shrine with incense burners, water-deity figurines, and agricultural pottery.

Morehart and his colleagues were using satellite imagery to map ancient canals, irrigation channels and lakes that used to surround the kingdom of Teotihuacan (home to the Pyramid of the Sun), about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Mexico City. The vast ancient kingdom flourished from around A.D 200 to 650, though who built it remains a mystery.

News sources are referring to the skulls as ’sacrifice victims’. Commenting on the story, some have suggested that this could have been a large execution of captured enemies, rather than an elaborate, traditional, sacrificial ceremony, based on the conflicts of location and victim-type.

Indeed, reports:

The findings shake up existing notions of the culture of the day, because the site is not associated with Teotihuacan or other regional powers, said Destiny Crider, an archaeologist at Luther College in Iowa, who was not involved in the study.

Human sacrifice was practiced throughout the region, both at Teotihuacan and in the later Aztec Empire, but most of those rituals happened at great pyramids within cities and were tied to state powers.

Photos of the remains are unavailable as they’re not being released due to the sensitivity of any living descendents: "the sacrifice victims may have historic ties to modern-day indigenous cultures."

Interestingly, no such niceties were observed in the reporting of a trove of 50 human skulls found at an Aztec temple in Mexico City in October of 2012:

50 shattered skulls used in sacrificial rituals found at sacred temple

Archaeological investigations remain ongoing.

By Elizabeth Leafloor,

An artifact depicting Tlaloc, a Pre-Columbian water god, was found at the dig site at Lake Xaltocan, Mexico.

Dig site in Mexico where a trove of decapitated skulls were reportedly found buried.

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