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Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices


Archaeologists in Mexico have found the first temple to the pre-Hispanic deity Xipe Totec, a god of fertility and war who was worshipped by sacrificing and skinning captives.

Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
A skull-like stone carving and a stone trunk depicting the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned
human corpse, are stored after being excavated from the Ndachjian–Tehuacan archaeological site in Tehuacan,
Puebla state, where archaeologists have discovered the first temple dedicated to the deity
[Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]
Evidence indicates that priests ritually sacrificed their victims on one of the temple's two circular altars, then flayed them on the other and draped themselves in their skin, Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.


Historians have long known that Xipe Totec ("the flayed god") was worshipped by numerous peoples across what is now central and western Mexico and the Gulf coast.

Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
Although depictions of the god, Xipe Totec, had been found before in other cultures,
a whole temple had never been discovered 
[Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]
But the discovery—made among the ruins of the Ndachjian-Tehuacan archeological site in the central state of Puebla—is the first time a temple dedicated to the god has been found, the institute said.


The artefacts uncovered at the site include three stone sculptures of Xipe Totec: two skinned heads and a torso, whose back is covered in engravings representing the sacrificial skins worn by the god.

Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
Each of the stone skulls is approximately 70 centimetres tall and weighs about 200 kilograms[Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]
"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," said Noemi Castillo Tejero, the lead archaeologist on the project.


The skulls measure about 70 centimeters tall and weigh some 200 kilograms (440 pounds).

Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
Sculpted torso of the deity known as Xipe Totec [Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]
The temple would have been used from around the year 1000 until about 1260, the institute said. The Spanish takeover of Mexico began in 1519 with the arrival of the conquistador Hernan Cortes.


The institute said Xipe Totec was one of the most important gods in pre-Hispanic Mexico, and was worshipped in a ceremony called Tlacaxipehualiztli, which in the indigenous Nahuatl language means "to wear the skin of the flayed one."

Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
Archaeologists work at the Ndachjian–Tehuacan archaeological site in Tehuacan, Puebla state, Mexico, where the first
known temple to the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned human corpse,
has been identified
 [Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]
Sacrificial victims were killed either through gladiatorial combat matches or by being shot with arrows, then flayed to glorify Xipe Totec, it said.


Their skins were then buried at the foot of the altars.

Two holes filled in with earth were found in front of the altars at the Ndachjian-Tehuacan site, it said.

Source: AFP [January 04, 2019]

TANN

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