Archaeologists discover first known temple to “flayed god” Xipe Totec

Photo of carved stone skull.

Enlarge / This skinned
skull, carved from volcanic stone, once covered the burial pit for
the skins of human sacrifices to Xipe Totec. (credit: Melitón
Tapia, INAH)

Xipe Totec is a god of agricultural renewal. Worshipped with
human sacrifice, his priests wore the victims’ skins as
ceremonial attire. Statues and carvings of Xipe Totec have turned
up at archaeological sites scattered all over Mexico and Central
America, but archaeologists with Mexico’s National Institute of
Anthropology and History (INAH) say they’ve found the first known
temple dedicated to the god. Preliminary dating suggests the temple
saw use from 1000 to 1260 CE, which suggests that it was built
before the rise of Aztec culture.

A team led by archaeologist Noemí Castillo Tejero excavated the
basement of a pyramid at a temple complex in Puebla state in
south-central Mexico, where previous seasons’ excavations had
found damaged sculptures of Xipe Totec on a pair of altars out
front. Inside, they found two sacrificial altars, a small ceramic
statue of the god, and two massive carved skulls that they say also
represented the skinned face of the Flayed God.

While this is the first temple to Xipe Totec that archaeologists
have studied, documents from the Aztec period describe the annual
spring ritual of Tlacaxipehualiztli, or “to wear the skin of the
flaying.” In these ceremonies, priests sacrificed captive slaves
to Xipe Totec, then carefully skinned their bodies and wore the
skins to carry out 20 days of rituals.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Archaeologists discover first known temple to “flayed god” Xipe Totec