Sacrificiul aztec

Human Sacrifice in the Aztec Society

Aztec Sacrifice: 14th to the 16th Century AD

Who Were the Aztecs?

The term Aztec is a modern-day invention to describe the various tribes who made up the Mexica kingdom. They rose to prominence in the 9th century and their empire peaked in power and culture from the 14th to the 16th century, when the Spanish conquered the region, devastating and destroying the Aztecs once and for all.

The Importance of Human Sacrifice

Ritual sacrifice and self-bloodletting were central to the lives of the Aztecs. The concept of blood sacrifice was ingrained through ritual and tradition into the Aztec psyche and was at the very core of their beliefs. They felt they owed a debt to the gods, one that the people should continue to pay every day, otherwise the Sun would not rise.

Gods and Deities

The Aztecs firmly believed that the sacrifice of deities led to the creation of the universe, and that the sacrifice of blood was necessary to appease the gods, with Huitzilopochtli, the God of Sun and War being the most important, demanding blood to be appeased.

Types of Sacrifices

Animals were regularly sacrificed, but the most important and significant sacrifices were those of humans. Public human sacrifices were performed with great pageantry and ritual by the high priest, with scholars estimating that there were between 1,000 to 25,000 human sacrifices a year.

Sacrificial Ceremonies

Aztec warriors would often wound their opponents in battle rather than kill them in order to capture and bring them back for human sacrifice. The freshly cut out heart would then be placed in a stone vase and incinerated or offered to the Sun for it to consume.

The Great Temple

At the very center of the Aztec religious world was the Great Temple, where countless human sacrifices were carried out. It was a place of mythical reenactment where the heart of the victim would be held up high for all to see before the lifeless body was thrown down the steps of the temple.

The End of the Aztec Sacrifices

In March 1519, the Spanish invaded the Aztec empire, and within two years, the Aztec empire had crumbled, conquered by the Spanish. With the arrival of Christian missionaries, many of the Aztec ways and rituals of human sacrifice were confined to the pages of history.

Legacy of the Aztec Sacrifices

Despite the Spanish invaders’ efforts to eradicate the practice, some artifacts such as ceremonial skull towers and skull racks have survived to this day, a reminder of the Aztec society and their beliefs.

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