Human Sacrifice In The Aztecs

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Human sacrifice is one of the oldest practices of the Mesoamerican culture. The Aztecs, the last empire of the Mesoamericans, performed human sacrifices in their festivals as a means to show political power and to maintain the order of the universe. The Mexica Empire also considered war and sacrifice to be essential in the gaining of their vast territories. It is believed that hundreds, or even thousands, of victims were sacrificed each year at the Aztec religious sites. However, in addition to the religious ritual, sacrifices had the effect of intimidation for outside visitors/ enemies and the population in general.
The Aztecs believed in the concept of giving in order to receive, so they offered gifts to the earth in exchange for daily
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They used a ‘maguey’ (form of cactus) thorn or other very sharp instrument like an obsidian (type of volcanic glass) blade to prick themselves in the tongue, ear, thigh, arm, or even private parts, and only very young children were spared from these acts of sacrifice. The act was performed in the presence of sacred images, which every home contained, no matter how poor.
There were also other non-fatal sacrifices that were common, in addition to self-harm, such as the burning of tobacco and incense. The offering of other living creatures such as deer, butterflies, and snakes was another form of sacrifice. Food stuffs and objects of precious metals, jades, and shells that could be ritually burned were objects that were willingly handed over for the gods to enjoy. One of the most interesting of the offerings was dough images of the gods (tzoalli), which were made from ground amaranth plant mixed with human blood and honey, and then burnt or eaten after the
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The system was based on their religion and corresponded to their agricultural cycle, and feasts were celebrated with human sacrifice as an indispensable ritual. The ritual death of a human being was regarded as the culmination of any ceremony, but the extraction of the heart was the main ritual that preceded the slaying. The blood of victims was considered to be filled with the power to communicate with the supernatural world (Gonzalez Torres 1992:116). The priests in charge of these rituals sprinkled the collected blood on a sacrificial stone and the stairs of the temple pyramid. It is thought that they threw the bodies of victims from the top of the temple pyramid to sanctify the stairs with their blood. Rituals performed before and after the heart extraction often depended on the month/ deity, such as flaying of the victim in the month Tlacaxipehualiztli, shooting a victim with arrows in Huey Tecuilhuitl, and sacrifice by fire in
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