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Most of the sacrificial rituals took more than two people to perform. In the usual procedure of the ritual, the sacrifice would be taken to the top of the temple. The sacrifice would then be laid on a stone slab by four priests, and his/her abdomen would be sliced open by a fifth priest with a ceremonial knife made of flint. The cut was made in the abdomen and went through the diaphragm. The priest would grab the heart and tear it out, still beating. It would be placed in a bowl held by a statue of the honored god, and the body thrown down the temple's stairs.
Before and during the killing, priests and audience (who gathered in the plaza below) stabbed, pierced and bled themselves as autosacrifice (Sahagun, Bk. 2: 3: 8, 20: 49, 21: 47). Hymns, whistles, spectacular costumed dances and percussive music marked different phases of the rite.
The body parts would then be disposed of: the viscera fed the animals in the zoo; the bleeding head was placed on display in the tzompantli, meaning 'hairy skulls'. Not all the skulls in the tzompantlis were victims of sacrifice. In the Anales de Tlatelolco it is described that during the siege of Tlatelolco by the Spaniards, the Tlatelolcas built three tzompantli: two for their own dead and one for the fallen conquerors, including two severed heads of horses.
Other kinds of human sacrifice, which paid tribute to various deities, approached the victims differently. The victim could be shot with arrows (in which the draining blood represented the cool rains of spring); die in unequal fighting (gladiatorial sacrifice) or be sacrificed as a result of the Mesoamerican ballgame; burned (to honor the fire god); flayed after being sacrificed (to honor Xipe Totec, "Our Lord The Flayed One"), or drowned.
For the re-consecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs reported that they sacrificed about 80,400 prisoners over the course of four days, though there were probably far fewer sacrifices. According to Ross Hassig, author of Aztec Warfare, "between 10,000 and 80,400 persons" were sacrificed in the ceremony. The higher estimate would average 14 sacrifices per minute during the four-day consecration. (As a comparison, the Auschwitz concentration camp, working 24 hours a day with modern technology, approached but did not equal this pace: it executed about 19,200 a day at its peak. The limiting factor for the Nazis was not killing people, but efficient disposal, via cremation of the bodies.) Four tables were arranged at the top so that the victims could be jettisoned down the sides of the temple. Nonetheless, according to Codex Telleriano-Remensis, old Aztecs who talked with the missionaries told about a much lower figure for the reconsecration of the temple, approximately 4,000 victims in total.
The high-profile nature of the sacrificial ceremonies indicates that human sacrifice played an important political function. The Mexica used a sophisticated package of psychological weaponry to maintain their empire, aimed at instilling a sense of fear into their neighbours. The Aztecs controlled a large empire of tribute paying vassal tribes. The population of native Aztecs was very small compared to the population of the area they controlled. The Aztecs were vulnerable - they would have been easily outnumbered had their vassal tribes formed alliances and rebelled. To sow dissention among the vassals the Aztecs demanded human victims as part of the annual tribute. The vassals would raid each other to capture prisoners. This encouraged animosity between the vassals and strengthened Aztec political central rule. This was a method of political control which was innovative and perhaps unique in human history.
Originally posted by Aeons
perfect examples of truly horrible human behaviour. Places where the bad things ruled.
Originally posted by Aeons
I think Ancient Aztec cultures are perfect examples of...
truly horrible human behaviour. Places where the bad things ruled.
Originally posted by randyvs
They sacrificed children then, they are still doing it today.
Originally posted by SUICIDEHK45
Would the Aztec civilization still be thriving today if it wasn't for the European influence?