Archeologists in Mexico City say they’ve discovered part of the long-rumored Huey Tzompantli, a rack of humans skulls believed to measure some 200 feet in diameter. The tower sat on the edge of the Templo Mayor, a temple devoted to the Aztec god of sun, war, and human sacrifice. While its existence has been talked about since the conquest of Hernan Cortes, now that researchers have uncovered the skulls they’ve raised more questions about Aztec practices.
“Something is happening that we have no record of, and this is really new, a first in the Huey Tzompantli," Rodrigo Bolanos, a biological anthropologist working on the dig, told Reuters.
Two years ago, researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History started their dig at the edge of Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral, which now covers the Templo Mayor. The discovery is one of the most important related to Aztec ceremonial practice. These racks of skulls, as well acts of human sacrifice, were common among Mesoamerican cultures. This is believed to be one of the larger such towers, and it was written about by Andres de Tapia, a Spanish soldier who followed Cortes on his conquest of Mexico in 1521. In his account, de Tapia said the rack included tens of thousands of skulls “placed on a very large theater made of lime and stone, and on the steps of it were many heads of the dead stuck in the lime with the teeth facing outward.”