"A tower of human skulls unearthed beneath the heart of Mexico City has raised new questions about the culture of sacrifice in the Aztec Empire after crania of women and children surfaced among the hundreds embedded in the forbidding structure." Source: Reuters (July 2017).
"Archaeologists have found more than 650 skulls caked in lime and thousands of fragments in the cylindrical edifice near the site of the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, which later became Mexico City."
Next video shows some of the ruins and artifacts of Templo Mayor. Several documentaries about the temple can be found on YouTube, but most of them are only available in Spanish.
The Aztecs weren't the first MesoAmerican civilization to practice human sacrifice -- the earlier Olmecs are also thought to have butchered people on top of pyramids -- but the Aztecs took the practice to "an unprecedented scale," according to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, which goes on to point out that the early stories about Aztec bloodthirstiness were probably exaggerated by the Spanish in an attempt to justify their own brutality against the natives.
Modern, politically correct sources tend to downplay or attempt to mitigate the grisly side of Aztec religion. The Spanish Catholic perspective can be found in the excellent book Blood-Drenched Altars: A Catholic Commentary on the History of Mexico by the Most Rev. Francis Clement Kelley, first published in 1935.
"Blood-Drenched Altars will be a surprising, if not indeed a shocking, revelation to modern readers. For here is contained the key to understanding Mexico. Tracing the history of Mexico from its very beginnings, the author outlines the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Indians under Montezuma and exposes the lie that the Spanish destroyed a flourishing Indian civilization. Rather, this book shows how they ended an Aztec reign of terror over the other Indian tribes, highlighted by human sacrifice and cannibalism on an unprecedented scale--some estimates being 80,000 a year sacrificed and as many as 20,000 at one festival." -- from the back cover of Blood-Drenched Altars.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested not only in getting both sides of the story but in reading history as it was written before political correctness polluted our entire culture. Whether you accept the Catholic version of events or not, there's no doubt that the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice on a massive scale:
"Conducted at specially dedicated temples on the top of large pyramids such as at Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan, sacrifices were most often carried out by stretching the victim over a special stone, cutting open the chest and removing the heart using an obsidian or flint knife." (Ancient History Encyclopedia) Next video demonstrates how this could have been done.
I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the conquistadors and the priests who followed them exaggerated the numbers of Aztec sacrificial victims. After all, it's unlikely that the Spanish actually counted the people being led to the tops of pyramids to have their hearts torn out. But if archaeologists are still digging up "towers of human skulls" in Mexico City, it's obvious that the Aztecs were killing a lot of people. Their brutality against their neighbors was one of the main reasons the Spanish had no trouble defeating the Aztec Empire.
This latest discovery doesn't "cast new light" on the Aztecs. Rather, it confirms once again what we already know about them.