The following is an excerpt from an article titled Unburying the Aztec by Robert Draper, in the Nov/2010 issue of the National Geographic.
“As Lopez Lujan’s father, the Meso-american scholar Alfredo Lopez Austin, puts it, “The most common misconception is that the Aztec were a completely original culture. They weren’t”
But the harsh caricature of the Aztecs as bloodthirsty is just as misguided. So grossly did the conquering Spaniards overstate the Mexica bloodlust – claiming, for example, that 80,4000 humans were put to death at a single temple dedication, a feat that would have depopulated much of central Mexico – that some groups today feel justified in dismissing sacrifice as a European fiction. That’s going too far. Chemical examininations during the past 15 years of porous surfaces throughout Mexico City reveal “blood traces everywhere,” says Lopez Lujan. “You have sacrificial knives, the bodies of 127 victims-you can’t deny the human sacrifice.”
But, he is quick to add, you’ll will find human sacrifice everywhere in the world at that time. The Maya and numerous other cultures predated the Aztec’s embrace of the practice. “It isn’t the violence of a people but rather of an age-a warlike atmosphere when the religions of the time demanded that humans be sacrificed to replenish the gods,” observes Lopez Austin. And tht spiritual imperative was received by the Aztec people with considerable anguish, according to analyses of codices by Harvard historian of religions David Carrasco. “They were upset about sacrifice,” he says. “I think tthere are a lot of signs that were bothered by it.”