Finding a grave of a warrior with sacrificial gifts is always a great archaeological discovery but finding the grave of a warrior wolf is an amazing discovery. Today's Mexico City is built over the ruins of Tenochtitlán, the former capital of the Aztec Empire, and for forty years there have been exploring and excavating in the city’s core. During 2017, archaeologists have come to one of the most valuable discoveries so far. Near the steps of the former Aztec temple, Templo Mayor, in the middle-sized stone box, the remains of a young wolf with many sacrificial offerings were found. Among the offerings, there are a large number of gold items of exceptional value, such as ears and nose ornaments, but also a part of the warrior armor. Besides golden body decorations and parts of warfare equipment, one of the offerings was also a belt made of shells from the Atlantic Ocean. Wolf’s face faced toward the west, and this position of the body was connected to Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and the solar deity. The wolf is depicted as a follower of the sun, as the sunset and death are often associated, and parts of the warrior equipment on the wolf point to gifts dedicated to the warrior deity. It is no coincidence that the wolf was sacrificed because the Aztecs believed that wolves help fallen warriors to pass a dangerous river in the underworld.
It is estimated that the wolf was about eight months old when he was killed and taken as a sacrifice. The research will show clearer but it is likely that the heart was removed from the chest during the sacrificial ritual, similar to the rituals of human sacrifice performed by Aztecs in their temples. Ritual murders were carried out with special care because they had a symbolic value and were intended as part of a special gift to the deity. The young wolf was buried most probably during the era of the Aztecs ruler Ahuitzotl (1486-1502) who was known as a very violent and dominant ruler. During his reign, wars were often waged, and the Aztec Empire expanded considerably to the borders of today's Guatemala in the south. When the wars were frequent, the number of sacrificial gifts to the deity of Huitzilopochtli also increased. Ahuitzotl ruled for some 20 years before the arrival of conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1521, who destroyed and robbed the city. It is estimated that, at the time, Tenochtitlán had about 400,000 inhabitants, hundreds of different temples, and was the largest city in Mesoamerican history.
For Aztecs, gold had a special spiritual value and was often part of the funeral gifts. However, after the arrival of the Spaniards, a large number of graves and temple treasuries of the Aztec were robbed. Unfortunately, most of these items were melted to more convenient for transportation to Spain. In addition to gold, the Aztecs highly appreciated jade, even more than gold, as well as the feathers of the quetzal, bird living in Central America. Male quetzals have long and green tail feathers which were especially appreciated among Asteczs. The discovery of the sacrificial wolf with untouched offerings is especially significant, as the grave has managed to avoid the looting of the Spanish invaders, but it also remained undiscovered in the early 20th century, although the reconstruction of the city was very close to the place of discovery.
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