Images of death in Offering 141 of Tenochtitlan’s Great Temple: Human sacrifice and the symbolism of effigy skulls
Offering 141 is one of the numerous deposits found at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan that contain the remains of decapitated individuals associated with the Mexica practice of human sacrifice. After the immolation of men, women, and children, their heads underwent various cultural treatments in order to be utilized by the city’s priests in specific rituals. Although some of these severed heads were buried shortly after death to consecrate the building, others were transformed into effigies of defleshed beings that represented earth and death deities. This paper presents the results of osteological and symbolic analyses of the seven skulls found in Offering 141, which are characterized by their magnificent conservation and for preserving sufficient polychromy to generate a graphic register and pictorial reconstruction of their facial decoration. The skulls also were adorned with insignia of shell, pyrite, and wood, and were found associated in the context of skeletal sculptures, marine material, and animal pelts—ritual objects that help us understand the symbolism of the effigies represented.
SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.
Cite this Record
Images of death in Offering 141 of Tenochtitlan’s Great Temple: Human sacrifice and the symbolism of effigy skulls. Erika Robles Cortés, Ximena Chávez Balderas, Alejandra Aguirre Molina, Michelle De Anda Rogel. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396547)
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;