Archaeological and other evidence has constantly and increasingly been found which leads us to the inescapable conclusion that the cultures and empires which predated Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas – with its most important consequence, the evangelization of Amerindians, accompanied by the civilizing effect that Christianization of peoples has always had – were practising human sacrifices and cannibalism.
The reality of such atrocities routinely and regularly committed by the “First Americans”, light years distant from the “noble savage” myth created by Enlightenment (but not enlightened) Geneva-born philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is not denied today even by the most liberal sources, which have in the past tried to exonerate all non-Europeans from any act, however terrible.
Main Victims of Aztecs Human Sacrifice
We know that Aztec religion and Aztec culture imposed human sacrifice.
Aztecs were not the only ones to practice human sacrifice, which was found among many pre-Columbian populations, but among Aztecs the scale of human sacrifice was probably greater.
ScienceMag is one of the sources confirming that isotope and DNA studies indicate that Aztec sacrifice victims represent a sample of the population from all over Mesoamerica (modern-day Mexico and Central America), so they were mostly foreigners, and were men, women and children:
The mix of ages and sexes also supports another Spanish claim, that many victims were slaves sold in the city’s markets expressly to be sacrificed. [Emphasis added]
The most common sacrificial victims of the Aztecs were the indigenous peoples living outside the cities, isolated, in the forests. It is not surprising that these Amerindians were liberated both militarily by the Spanish Conquistadors and humanly by the immense message of freedom that Catholic Spain with its missionaries was bringing to them, the Gospel, and it is also not surprising that, as well as converting to Christianity in droves, they became strong and determined allies of the Conquistadors in the war against their terrible, barbaric Aztec oppressors and helped the Spaniards conquer the city of Tenochtitlan.
The God of Aztecs Human Sacrifice
The Aztec god of the sun Huitzilopochtli was waging a constant war against darkness. Huitzilopochtli was not only the god of sun but also the Aztec god of war and of human sacrifice.
His three functions were interrelated. Wars were waged by Aztecs against other populations in order to capture and sacrifice the defeated enemies to Huitzilopochtli. The purpose of the human sacrifices was to nourish with human hearts and blood Huitzilopochtli, who as god of the sun was continuously battling with darkness.
If human sacrifices had stopped, Aztecs thought, the sun would have ceased to move from east to west across the sky and to emit its light, darkness would have won, the world would have ended and so would their lives.
The most common method of sacrificial murder was by the removal of the heart:
«Four priests grabbed the victim and threw him on the sacrificial stone. Then, the High Priest planted the knife [made from bone stone and obsidian, a volcanic glass, as the Aztecs had not yet discovered iron or bronze metals] under the left nipple, making his way through the ribcage, until, rummaging with his bare hands, he could tear out the still beating heart and put it in a cup to offer it to the gods. After that, the bodies were tossed down the steps of the pyramid. Waiting for them, at the back, were other priests who carved each body on the back, from the nape to the heels, and tore the skin in a single piece. The skinned body was taken by a warrior who took it home and tore it to pieces, which were offered to friends. Alternatively, friends were invited home for a celebration which included the victim’s meat. The tanned skins, on the other hand, were used as clothing for the priestly caste».
While young men and women were sacrificed in this way (by the tens of thousands each year: the principle was that human hearts had to be offered without interruption to the gods), children were thrown into the chasm of Pantilàn, non-virgin women were beheaded, adult men skinned alive and then finished with arrows. And so on, with other pleasures that one would want to wish to Jane Fonda [who had said that pre-Columbians had a better religion and a better social system than Europeans].
From the book Pensare la storia. Una lettura cattolica dell’avventura umana by Vittorio Messori, Paoline, Milan 1992 [Emphases added]
The one described above is the kind of scene that Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men witnessed in 1521 when they arrived in the city of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital, which finally became Mexico City: Aztec priests slicing open the chests of sacrificial victims and offering their palpitating hearts to the gods, then throwing the victims’ bodies down the steps of the gigantic Templo Mayor (Great Temple).
For a long time the Spanish conquistadors’ reports were not believed. Prejudices against colonizers and the Enlightenment myth of the “good savage”, claiming that men are born without faults and that only society and civilization corrupt them, were too strong and prevailed.
But then, archaeologists started digging and evidence began mounting .
Natives Supported Spanish Liberators against Mass Human Sacrifice and Oppression
Mayan and Aztec human sacrifice was not just horrendous, it was also widespread.
From Latin American Studies:
Cortés and his men were the only Europeans to see the human sacrifices of the Aztecs, for the practice ended shortly after the successful Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire. But since the sixteenth century, Aztec sacrifice has persisted in puzzling scholars. No human society known to history approached that of the Aztecs in the quantities of people offered as religious sacrifices: 20,000 a year is a common estimate.
It may be a common quote, but the true figure may very well be even much greater than that.
Without the Spanish conquest that vanquished the Aztec empire and put an end to its atrocities, those human sacrifices would have continued. Those who blame the Spanish Conquistadors should stop and reflect: how many more native people would have died without them?
Incidentally, as this is the subject for another article on this website, the Spaniards committed no genocide: it’s another of the falsities that we hear. Indians died of diseases brought by Europeans without their knowledge, as Europeans time and again have died for diseases contracted from other populations, including American Indians.
And even this is now strongly in doubt: recent research has discovered that Amerindians did not die of smallpox brought by Europeans, as formerly believed, but a local, native infection.
History writer Angela Pellicciari writes on the Italian website La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana:
Upon their arrival in America, Europeans found the Aztec and Inca empires which had been created with violence and were maintained with bloody oppression by those empires, who [invading other parts of the continent] had enslaved the natives.
Aztecs’ mass human sacrifices and the cannibalism that accompanied them allowed the Spaniards to stand as liberators of many populations terrified of the Aztecs and the Incas for whom they constituted a reserve of human flesh.
It’s thanks to the liberation from terror, thanks to the faith of the religious and the soldiers themselves, thanks to the immediately built universities and the endless series of convents, thanks to the knowledge of all the languages and traditions of the conquered peoples described with love by monks and friars, that Spain succeeded in the impossible task of evangelizing and Romanizing an entire continent. And to do it with very few men and in a few years.
Latin America, it will be called.
Teotihuacan Temple of Feathered Serpent, Mexico