Bizarre Child Sacrifice Confirms The Aztecs Were Terrifying


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist


The discovery offers fresh insights into the link between children, human sacrifice, and the war deity Huitzilopochtli. Mirsa Islands/Proyecto Templo Mayor, INAH

The Templo Mayor is practically the Aztec HQ for human sacrifices. Following on from recent huge discoveries at this grand temple, archaeologists might have unearthed one of their most curious finds yet: the skeleton of a young child surrounded by jewels and volcanic rocks.

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico have been digging around the Templo Mayor in the ancient city of Tenochtitlán, found in current-day Mexico City, as reported by National Geographic Spain.


Within an unusual cylindrical pit lined with volcanic rocks, they unearthed the remains of a small skeleton – dubbed "Offering 176" – that dates to the 15th century CE. Surrounded by colorful jewels, they believe the boy was buried with a beaded necklace around his neck that has since worn away. Most peculiar of all, the green beads are jadeite brought from Guatemala and the blue beads come from an unknown origin. 

The cylindrical shape of the box is unique to the area. Mirsa Islands/Proyecto Templo Mayor, INAH

Physical anthropologists on the scene argue that the boy was no older than 10 years old, yet died with worn teeth and signs of infection within his mouth. Offering 176 was discovered in the west wing of a temple dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and the Sun, hinting that the boy was “given” to the deity as a human sacrifice. The skeleton was also adorned with badges and ornaments related to that deity – a sure sign he was sacrificed in a gruesome ritual. 

The skull of the young boy. Mirsa Islands/Proyecto Templo Mayor, INAH

According to the INAH, the discovery offers fresh insights into the link between children, human sacrifice, and the war deity Huitzilopochtli, who received this type of offering when priests wanted to foresee the outcome of battles. It’s the second example of a child sacrifice being found at the Templo Mayor. In 2005, researchers discovered a similar find at the south of the temple, but this burial didn't feature the unusual clinical pit found this time around.

The city of Tenochtitlán flourished from 1325 CE until the Spanish conquistadors turned up and destroyed it, along with the Templo Mayor, in 1521 CE. Now this Aztec past is slowly being revealed once more. The past year has seen huge discoveries at Templo Mayor, most amazing of which is a cylindrical tower, some 35 meters (114 feet) in length and 5 meters (16 feet) in height, made out of around 700 humans skulls.


  • tag
  • death,

  • skeleton,

  • history,

  • Aztec,

  • god,

  • temple,

  • sacrifice,

  • god of war,

  • child sacrifice,

  • jewel