NEWS
03/01/2019 14:05 GMT

Ancient Temple Of The Flayed Lord Found In Mexico

“The Aztec practice was to perform the sacrificial death and ritually store the skins."

Associated Press
Archaeologists discovered the first temple dedicated to the Flayed Lord in Tehuacan, Puebla state 

A temple in which ancient priests donned flayed human skin to worship a god of fertility has been discovered in Mexico.

The first temple of the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god, was unearthed during recent excavations of Popoloca Indian ruins in the central state of Puebla.

Two skull-like stone carvings and a stone trunk depicting the god Xipe Totec, with an extra hand dangling off one arm to suggest it was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim, were found by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The ritual of wearing human skin during worship was seen as a way to ensure fertility and regeneration.

The Popolocas built the temple at a complex known as Ndachjian-Tehuacan between AD 1000 and 1260 and were later conquered by the Aztecs.

Ancient accounts of the rituals suggested victims were killed in gladiator-style combat or by arrows on one platform, then skinned on another platform. The layout of the temple at Tehuacan seems to match that description.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The archaeological site where the temple was discovered 

Depictions of the god had been found before in other cultures, including the Aztecs, but not a whole temple.

University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the project, wrote: “Finding the torso fragment of a human wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim in situ is perhaps the most compelling evidence of the association of this practice and related deity to a particular temple, more so to me than the two sculpted skeletal crania.

“If the Aztec sources could be relied upon, a singular temple to this deity (whatever his name in Popoloca) does not necessarily indicate that this was the place of sacrifice.”

She added: “The Aztec practice was to perform the sacrificial death in one or more places, but to ritually store the skins in another, after they had been worn by living humans for some days. So it could be that this is the temple where they were kept, making it all the more sacred.”