The Wall of Skulls – Tzompantli

©René Delgado Cacheux/flickr

©René Delgado Cacheux/flickr

The Aztec name for this structure is Tzompantli, you can see it first at the Aztec captial city of the Tenochtitian. At Chichen Itza, it is a very interesting Toltec structure. You can see the head of the sacrificial victims being placed. Being one of the three platforms in the Great Plaza, according to Bishop Landa, it is the other two were for farces and comedies. Quite a strange way to show that the Itza’s were all about fun.

Carved Beautiful Reliefs

On the platform walls of the Tzompantli, you can see the reliefs of 4 different subjects. The main subject is the wooden skull rack. Secondly, you can see a scene with a human sacrifice. Thirdly, you will see eagles eating all the human hearts. And last but not least, the skeletonized warriors with arrows and shields. The war captives during the Mesoamerican civilizations on display are pretty cruel. Some of these tzompantli are in Aztec temple as a form of dedication to the deity Huitzilopochtli or Uitzilopochtli. It is symbolized with a left-handed Hummingbird who was a god of war, a sun god.

Aztec Codices

Books written by pre-Columbian and colonial-era Aztecs are Aztec codices. It give you more information about the Aztec culture. Aztec means “people from Aztlan” while Aztlan is a mythological ancestral home of the Nahua peoples.

Nahua Peoples

They are a group of indigenous poeples of Mexico. About 1.5 million Nahua speak the language Nahuatl and another 1 million speak Spanish. Around 500 CE, they split off from the Uto-Aztecan speaking peoples and migrated into central Mexico. So when you learn about the Mesoamerican civilizations, you hear or see a lot about the Nahua ethnicity or the Toltec and Aztec cultures. Some other like the Tepaneca, Tlaxaltec, Acolhua, Xochimilca, to name a few.


Aztec ©eatonjb/flickr

Aztec ©eatonjb/flickr

It is an archaeological Mesoamerican culture that dominated Hidalgo centered in Tula. The word Toltec has the meaning of ‘artisan’. At the Tula Archeological Ruins, it is important to see the famous “Telamons of Tula” which are near Tula de Allende Hidalgo in Mexico. The ancient capital city of the Toltecs, Tula or Tollan was destroyed some time between 1168 and 1179. Later it became a capital city. One of the sights that you must see is the  Tula Grande and Tula Chico. There are amazing pyramids, ball courts and vast colonnaded halls.

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