Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In this July 5, 2010 image released by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the skeleton of an adult human lies next to an offering found during the excavations for the newest subway line in Mexico City. The institute says several offerings were found during the construction of the subway line performed between 2008 and 2011, but the finds were announced on Tuesday Dec. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/INAH)
Mexico subway dig turns up unusual Aztec offering
First Published Dec 31 2013 03:36 pm • Last Updated Dec 31 2013 03:36 pm

MEXICO CITY • Archaeologists announced Tuesday that excavations for a Mexico City subway extension have turned up what appears to be an unusual Aztec offering: a dog’s skull with holes that indicate it was displayed on a ritual skull rack normally reserved for human sacrifice victims.

Excavators also found a woman’s skull and two men’s skulls with similar perforations around the temple, which allowed them to be mounted on a public display rack known as a tzompantli.

Photos
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The find dates to between 1350 and 1521 and is the first time a dog’s skull has been found along with a skull rack, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. The skull racks usually displayed the severed heads of captured warriors from rival groups, who were sacrificed as an offering to the gods. Few of them have actually been excavated.

"We know that during the conquest some horse skulls were placed on this type of structure, but not dogs," said institute archaeologist Maria de Jesus Sanchez, referring to an account documented by the Spanish conquerors who found the remains of captured colleagues as well as their horses displayed on a rack.

Since the Aztecs didn’t have horses, they may have taken the animals as sacred beasts, or something joined with the horse’s rider.

The Aztecs did have dogs, albeit smaller ones that seldom barked, so they would probably have known what they were putting on display.

"Perhaps there are dogs associated with these altars in other sites and we don’t know it," de Jesus said.

One possible explanation might have been dogs’ ritual importance in death or burial rites. According to some pre-Hispanic beliefs, a dog accompanied his owner in the underworld.

University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the project, wrote in an email that the appearance of the female skull was also unusual.

"What little information we have on the use of skull racks indicates that they were the resting place for the heads of war captives, and females generally were not taken in war," Gillespie wrote.


story continues below
story continues below

The excavations were carried out as part of a 15-mile (24.5 kilometer) expansion of the city’s subway station. They also uncovered about 100 burials, mostly of children.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.