Archaeologists working in Mexico at the site of Ndachjian-Tehuacan have recently discovered an ancient temple where brutal skinning sacrifices conducted on behalf of the deity known as Xipe Totec were carried out 1,000 years ago.
As Phys.org reported, Xipe Totec was an old pre-Hispanic god who was also known as “the flayed god,” and was once deemed as sacred by the large number of residents who made central and western Mexico their home, along with the Gulf Coast.
Archaeological evidence that has been left behind has demonstrated that special priests dedicated to Xipe Totec sacrificially slaughtered their victims and then stripped them of their skin so they could then don the flayed skin themselves.
In the temple just discovered, archaeologists have found two circular altars, and they believe that one of these would have been used specifically to kill their victims, with the other used to slowly extract the skin from them so that they could be worn in ceremonies carried out.
The killing of these victims would normally have been accomplished through gladiator-type sports or by simply shooting them with arrows until they eventually died.
In the state of Puebla, in Mexico, inside the ruins of what was once the great temple of Xipe Totec, archaeologists have unearthed three stone sculptures which were fashioned in the form of the deity, and these pieces are comprised of two heads and a torso, which were covered with special markings which are believed to imitate the many different skins that this god wore from the sacrificial offerings given to him.
— Phys.org (@physorg_com) January 4, 2019
As lead archaeologist Noemi Castillo Tejero explained, when the sculpture was measured, it was found to stretch 30 inches tall.
“Sculpturally speaking it’s a very beautiful piece. It measures approximately 80 centimeters (30 inches) tall and has a hole in the belly, which according to historical sources is where a green stone was placed to ‘bring it to life’ for ceremonies.”
It is thought that the temple in Mexico would have been heavily in use between the years 1000 to 1260 CE, with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History noting that during the time of pre-Hispanic Mexico, Xipe Totec would have been considered one of the region’s most important deities by far.
Ceremonies known as Tlacaxipehualiztli, where priests sacrificed victims and then wore their flayed skins, were commonplace and would have taken place in temples like the one discovered at Ndachjian-Tehuacan in Mexico. The practice only stopped after the Spanish conquest of Mexico, which officially began after 1519.