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Skull from the skull rack tzompantli

Human skull from the Aztec scull rack tzompantli

Human skull from the skull rack tzompantli, Aztec, 15th or 16th centuries, height 24 cms.; found during excavations of the skull rack. Museo del Templo Mayor, Mexico City.

The large openings on both sides of the skull show that it was displayed on the skull rack ‘tzompantli’. Hundreds of skulls, mounted on wooden beams, were exhibited on a platform. In 2015 the ‘Great “tzompantli”’ of Tenochtitlan was discovered near the Templo Mayor. So far about 500 skulls have been found. Most of them come from young adults: a possible indication that they are the heads of young enemy warriors who had been executed.

From Aztecs, eds. Doris Kurella, Martin Berger and Inés de Castro, with INAH, Mexico - catalogue for the exhibition Azteken, Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Hirmer Publishers, Germany, 2019, p. 339.

Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore.

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