Discovery Of Ancient Aztec Remains Could Lead To First Ruler’s Tomb

The Pyramid of the Moon at the ancient archaeological site of Teotihuacan in Mexico, circa 1980.
Harvey Meston / Getty Images

Remains discovered from what archeologists believe is ancient Aztec sacrificial ritual from five centuries ago could lead to the discovery of the very first Aztec emperor’s tomb, according to Reuters.

The find included what appeared to be sacrificial offerings that included the remains of a young boy dressed as Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and flint knives embellished with precious stones.

Researchers also found the remains of a jaguar dressed as Huitzilopochtli with a disk symbolizing the god in a stone box near the site. Shells, bright red starfish, and coral were also found in the box.

The remains were found at an archeological site in Mexico City, off the steps of what used to be the Aztec’s holiest temple, which is known as Templo Mayor today. Reuters reported that human sacrifices were performed in the area hundreds of years ago, which was once a hub in the city of Tenochtitlan.

What makes this find so significant is the fact that despite years of digging, no remains from royal Aztec burial sites have been reported before, leading archeologists to believe that this discovery is not only a first but that it could lead them to discover the tomb of the greatest Aztec ruler, Ahuitzotl.

The Templo Mayor was reportedly a 15-story pyramid before it was destroyed in 1521 during the Spanish Conquest. Historians have described burial customs of three brothers who were Aztec kings from 1469 to 1502. They believe that each ruler made additions to the pyramid, which included smaller temples on the north and south sides. The recent discovery reportedly lines up with the southern temple.

Furthermore, in 2006, archeologists discovered a monolith created for the Aztec earth goddess dating back to 1502, which was around the time Ahuitzotl reportedly died.

Elizabeth Boone, a specialist on ancient Mexico, said that the jaguar burial discovery might be the remains of Ahuitzotl’s burial.

Lead archeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan told Reuters that he had high hopes for the team heading up the excavation, adding that he thought they would continue to find “very rich objects.”

This is not the first time researchers have discovered remains in the area. Last June, a collection of skulls, that appeared to be a trophy rack, was unearthed near Templo Mayor, Fox News reported. The find revealed how human sacrifices played a part in the Aztec warrior culture.

While the excavation is likely to shed light on the Aztec world, it is not without difficulties. Reuters reported that archeologists working at the site said the Mexican government reduced the budget for the project and almost everyone on the team has gone without pay since December.