[E]xcavations for a Mexico City subway extension have turned up what appears to be an unusual Aztec offering: a dog’s skull with holes that indicate it was displayed on a ritual skull rack normally reserved for human sacrifice victims.
The skull racks usually displayed the severed heads of captured warriors from rival groups, who were sacrificed as an offering to the gods. “We know that during the conquest some horse skulls were placed on this type of structure, but not dogs,” said institute archaeologist Maria de Jesus Sanchez.
This is a neat story, not least because it touches my focus of study in college.
Also found in this batch were two men’s skulls and – more surprising – a woman’s skull.
Tzompantli skull racks (pronounced “tsoom-pahn-tlee”) were essentially victory monuments. The presence of the woman and dog’s skulls is highly unusual, but it isn’t terribly difficult to see how they might have wound up there – if a woman or dog died while attacking in combat, it is entirely culturally consistent in Nahua (Aztec) culture to afford appropriate honors.
The Nahua of 16th century Mexico could be ruthless and brutal – but they were definitely not hypocrites.