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Residential patterns of Mexica human sacrifices at Mexico-Tenochtitlan and Mexico-Tlatelolco: Evidence from phosphate oxygen isotopes
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology (2021)
  • Diana K Moreiras Reynaga
  • Jean-François Millaire, Western University
  • Ximena Chávez Balderas, Templo Mayor Project, INAH
  • Juan A Román Berrelleza, Museo del Templo Mayor, INAH
  • Leonardo López Luján
  • Fred J. Longstaffe, The University of Western Ontario
This is the first systematic study of residential patterns of Mexica human sacrifices, as determined from bone and enamel phosphate oxygen isotope data of individuals recovered at the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan (n = 36) and the Templo R of Tlatelolco (n = 24). We identify these individuals’ geographic residences and compare these patterns with phosphate oxygen isotope data from a contemporary non-sacrificial group (Ecatepec; n = 24) from the Basin of Mexico. The sacrifices’ residential patterns are evaluated to assess their group membership (i.e., as locals, long-term residents, or non-locals from other regions of Mesoamerica). The Tlatelolco subadult and adult sacrifices were either locals or long-term residents. The Templo Mayor subadult sacrifices offered at several ceremonies were non-locals and long-term residents, while the adult sacrifices were long-term residents (e.g., slaves living in Tenochtitlan >10 yrs.) or non-locals (e.g., war captives, slaves, spoils-of-war sacrificed soon after arriving to the Basin). Our results demonstrate the Templo Mayor priests had broad access to long-term residents and non-locals with origins from Mesoamerican regions subjugated by the Mexica. This study illustrates the Mexica obtained individuals for sacrifice with a diverse range of physical, social, and geographic characteristics for their ritual ceremonies.
  • Phosphate oxygen isotopes,
  • Aztecs,
  • Mexica,
  • Human sacrifice,
  • Residential histories,
  • Paleomobility,
  • Aztec Empire,
  • Triple Alliance,
  • Life histories,
  • Bioapatite,
  • Mesoamerica
Publication Date
Summer June, 2021
Publisher Statement
© 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Citation Information
Diana K Moreiras Reynaga, Jean-François Millaire, Ximena Chávez Balderas, Juan A Román Berrelleza, et al.. "Residential patterns of Mexica human sacrifices at Mexico-Tenochtitlan and Mexico-Tlatelolco: Evidence from phosphate oxygen isotopes" Journal of Anthropological Archaeology Vol. 62 (2021) p. 1 - 18 ISSN: 0278-4165
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