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Aztec war sacrifices found in Mexico may point to elusive royal tomb

Updated : 2019-03-25 13:38:41

A trove of Aztec sacrifices including a richly adorned jaguar dressed as a warrior and recently discovered in downtown Mexico City could lead archaeologists to the most tantalizing find yet: an Aztec emperor's tomb.

Discovered off the steps of the Aztec's holiest temple during the reign of the empire's most powerful ruler, the sacrificial offerings also include a young boy, dressed to resemble the Aztec war god and solar deity, and a set of flint knives elaborately decorated with mother of pearl and precious stones.

The offerings were deposited by Aztec priests over five centuries ago in a circular, ritual platform once located in front of the temple where the earliest historical accounts describe the final resting place of Aztec kings.

None of these details have been reported before and such a discovery would mark a first since no Aztec royal burial has yet been found despite decades of digging.

Tomas Cruz, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box shows an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Tomas Cruz, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box shows an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Antonio Marin, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where a 500-year-old partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering including bars of copal used by Aztec priests for incense in ritual ceremonies, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Antonio Marin, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where a 500-year-old partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering including bars of copal used by Aztec priests for incense in ritual ceremonies, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
The 500-year-old interior of a stone box shows an Aztec offering including a set of black flint knives decorated to represent warriors with carved pearl, jade and green stone and used by priests in ritual sacrifices, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
The 500-year-old interior of a stone box shows an Aztec offering including a set of black flint knives decorated to represent warriors with carved pearl, jade and green stone and used by priests in ritual sacrifices, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A general view of the ruins of the Aztecs' most important temple, known as the Templo Mayor, where the latest sacrificial offerings were found in downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A general view of the ruins of the Aztecs' most important temple, known as the Templo Mayor, where the latest sacrificial offerings were found in downtown Mexico City, Mexico June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A 500-year-old partially-excavated stone box containing an Aztec offering including bars of copal used by Aztec priests for incense in ritual ceremonies in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A 500-year-old partially-excavated stone box containing an Aztec offering including bars of copal used by Aztec priests for incense in ritual ceremonies in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
The 500-year-old interior of a stone box shows an Aztec offering including a set of black flint knives decorated to represent warriors with carved pearl, jade and green stone and used by priests in ritual sacrifices, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
The 500-year-old interior of a stone box shows an Aztec offering including a set of black flint knives decorated to represent warriors with carved pearl, jade and green stone and used by priests in ritual sacrifices, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Tomas Cruz, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where a 500-year-old partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Tomas Cruz, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where a 500-year-old partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
The 500-year-old interior of a circular stone offering shows the bones of a sacrificed young boy dressed as a warrior and dedicated to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli, in Mexico City, Mexico in this handout photograph released March 15, 2019 to Reuters by Courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)/Mirsa Islas/Handout via REUTERS
The 500-year-old interior of a circular stone offering shows the bones of a sacrificed young boy dressed as a warrior and dedicated to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli, in Mexico City, Mexico in this handout photograph released March 15, 2019 to Reuters by Courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)/Mirsa Islas/Handout via REUTERS
Tomas Cruz, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Tomas Cruz, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
The 500-year-old interior of a circular stone offering shows a skull of a sacrificed young boy dressed as a warrior and dedicated to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli, in Mexico City, Mexico in this handout photograph released March 15, 2019 to Reuters by Courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)/Mirsa Islas/Handout via REUTERS
The 500-year-old interior of a circular stone offering shows a skull of a sacrificed young boy dressed as a warrior and dedicated to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli, in Mexico City, Mexico in this handout photograph released March 15, 2019 to Reuters by Courtesy of the Templo Mayor Project of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)/Mirsa Islas/Handout via REUTERS
Antonio Marin, (L) an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering including bars of copal used by Aztec priests for incense in ritual ceremonies, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Antonio Marin, (L) an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering including bars of copal used by Aztec priests for incense in ritual ceremonies, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A 500-year-old partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
A 500-year-old partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Antonio Marin, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering including bars of copal used by Aztec priests for incense in ritual ceremonies, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Antonio Marin, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), works at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box contains an Aztec offering including bars of copal used by Aztec priests for incense in ritual ceremonies, in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Miguel Baez (L) and Antonio Marin, archaeologists with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), work at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box shows an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Miguel Baez (L) and Antonio Marin, archaeologists with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), work at a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box shows an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Leonardo Lopez Lujan, a lead archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), speaks to Reuters during an interview next to a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box shows an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Leonardo Lopez Lujan, a lead archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), speaks to Reuters during an interview next to a site where the 500-year-old interior of a partially-excavated stone box shows an Aztec offering that includes the bones of a jaguar with the circular emblem of the war god Huitzilopochtli, as well a layer of coral, the remains of a large number of starfish and shells and found at the steps of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero
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