The Pyramid of Skulls

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryIt was both a fantastic discovery and an equally grisly one. The Huei Tzampantli, or the Pyramid of Skulls, was part of the greater Temple Mayor that was part of the central plaza of the former Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Built of 600 skulls, it was rumored that such a temple existed, and was described in Spanish accounts of the time period. The Huei Tzampantli was, according to archaeologists, completed at the end of the 15th Century A.D. The skulls are believed to have been mostly of enemy warriors who were sacrificed to the Aztec gods. Some of the skulls are also believed to have been those of women and children who were enemy captives.

The main purpose of the Pyramid of Skulls was one of deterrence and intimidation. It was built not only as a sacrifice to the Aztec gods but also as a warning to all enemies of the Aztec Empire that those who opposed it would meet the same fate. And this worked for a time. We know it did not serve as a deterrence. The rival Kingdom of Tlaxcala sided with the newly arrived Spanish in an attempt to overthrow their hated Aztec enemies. The Aztecs had killed so many Tlaxcalans that the Tlaxcalans were more than eager to help the Spanish eliminate the Aztecs once and for all. The rest is history; the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan was completely obliterated, the Pyramid of Skulls lay buried for centuries until it was recently discovered, and Mexico became of the ever greater Spanish Empire.

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