Science: Poetry, Serpents and Sacrifice

A long-forgotten Aztec temple is unearthed in Mexico City

For almost two centuries, the Aztecs dominated central Mexico. Striking out from their capital, Mexico-Tenoch-titlán, site of present-day Mexico City, their soldiers waged war with the efficiency of Roman legions. Decked in feathery plumage to simulate serpents and other fearsome creatures, they terrorized their neighbors, bringing back captives and exacting tribute of food, blankets, precious metals and cacao beans (for use as money). In a bloody annual ritual known as the Raising of Banners, they appeased their chief deity Huitzilopochtli, the war god, by...

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