Aztec gold and wolf sacrifice found in a single cache

Archaeologists discovered a trove of gold artefacts buried with a wolf killed in a sacrifice ritual at a site adjacent to the Tempo Mayor, one of the main Aztec temples located in Mexico City.

Skull of the wolf and parts of the treasure (by Henry Romero)

The cache was discovered  in April near the capital’s main square, the Zocalo, behind the colonial-era Roman Catholic cathedral. According to the researchers the quality and number of golden ornaments is highly unusual and includes 22 complete pieces – such as symbol-laden pendants, a nose ring and a chest plate – all made from thin sheets of some of the finest Aztec gold ever found. The researchers believe that these are the largest and most refined pieces of gold discovered so far.

Golden treasure (by Henry Romero)

The trove was discovered deposited in a stone box. Inside it, remains of a eight-month-old wolf were found. It is believed the animal was dressed with golden ornaments as well as a belt of shells from the Atlantic Ocean, then carefully placed in a stone box by Aztec priests above a layer of flint knives. The west-facing wolf represented Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec war god and solar deity. Wolves were believed to help guide fallen warriors across a dangerous river in the netherworld.

Site of excavations (by Henry Romero)

Archaeologists report that the trove was also filled with other layers of once-living offerings from the air, land and sea, all infused with spiritual meaning for the Aztecs. The box was damaged in 1900 when a sewage line was laid down next to it. The remains of the wolf date to the period of reign of of King Ahuitzotl between 1486-1502, the most feared and powerful ruler of the Aztec.

Gold artefacts (by Henry Romero)

(after Henry Romero & Reuters)

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