Human sacrifices have been a part of ancient cultures since the beginning of time. With the belief that a human sacrifice would please gods and drive them to bestow stability and blessings upon the people of a particular belief. Thousands of victims have been sacrificed throughout history, most of them willingly. Similarly, one such culture famous for its unorthodox rituals of sacrificing humans are the Aztecs. For a long time, the Aztec ritual of human sacrifices was perceived as only a tale. However, recent excavations at the Templo Mayor has unearthed chilling facts about the Aztec Culture.
Standing tall in the Aztec capital, Templo Mayor was significant to the Aztec people since it was dedicated to the god of war (Huitzilopochtl) and the god of rain (Tlaloc).
The two temples held extreme importance for the Aztec religion and its followers, so to please the gods, all rituals of human sacrifices took place atop the Holy Templo Mayor. One of the very first descriptions of the human sacrifice rituals were noted by the Hernan Cortes. Who, when conquering the Aztec Capital, witnessed the bone chilling encounters of victims being cut open at the top of the Temple with their hearts being pulled out and offered as a sacrifice.
Regarded as a myth for a long time, a team of archeologists in 2018 eventually discovered human skulls stacked over each other, ultimately proving the rituals of human sacrifices in the Aztec culture. Moreover, historians suggest that more than 80,000 individuals including men, women and children had been offered to the gods as human sacrifices.
For the Aztec people, sacrificing humans was paramount for their existence. According to them, it was their belief that the god of sun was constantly fighting against the darkness. To keep the god of sun happy and fighting against the darkness, human sacrifices were offered or else the darkness would win and kill all of them. Similarly, apart from pleasing the gods, human sacrifices were also offered to protect against natural disasters and famines. Another important reason why the Aztec people performed human sacrifices was to scare away potential attackers and instill fear into their enemies. The dismembered heads of their enemies were displayed for everyone to see, as an intimidation trick to maintain order and discipline amongst the people.
Spanish manuscripts and stone carvings suggest that the Aztec people were also involved in cannibalism. With some historians suggesting they only did so in cases of famines or starvation. Others suggest that consuming the bodies of sacrificed victims was a matter of honor for the Aztec people as the sacrifices were a holy matter. These bodies were often presented to the high status individuals of the society. So not only was the ritual of sacrificing humans in the Aztec culture considered normal, consuming the bodies might have been an honour.