Gabriela Herstik
July 06, 2017 3:48 pm
PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images

There are some things we just do not want to encounter, ever. A bear or mountain lion in the woods, the Grim Reaper, a 500-year-old tower of human skulls… That last one is probably the creepiest of all, and historians didn’t think anything like it existed — until now.

In the Aztec city Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City, there was a temple honoring Huitzilopochtli, the patron god of the city who also ruled over the Sun, war, and sacrifice. So, fittingly, in his temple there was a rack of skulls almost 200 feet in diameter known as Huey Tzompantli.

Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century documented at least 136,000 skulls in the collection. The theory was that these skulls belonged to the Aztecs’ sacrifices, and were used to assert power via fear — because nothing is *actually* scarier than seeing that your enemy collects human skulls.

Up until recently, the existence of this temple was considered a myth. But scientists have just discovered over 650 skulls from the Huey Tzompantli, and they expect to discover more as more of the structure is unearthed.

As if this story weren’t scary enough, it gets worse. While archeologists were expecting to find skulls of male warriors, skulls of women and children have also been found. We may not know exactly what these ritual sacrifices were used for, but this discovery is definitely important. Biological anthropologist Rodrigo Bolanos, who was investigating the find told Reuters,

We’re waiting with bated breath to find out what the rest of the temple looks like…and to hear the final skull count.

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