The bones of the children, dating from about 950 to 1150, were found on the outskirts of the Toltec archaeological zone of Tula, said Luis Gamboa, an archaeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History. The discovery about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Mexico City predates the Aztecs, an advanced civilization conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century.
All of the bodies were laid out in the same positionfacing eastaround a shrine to the god Tlaloc, leading archeologists to believe “this was something collective, done simultaneously,” in a single ritual, Gamboa said.
“They had some incisions on the vertebrae that suggested they had used some sort of (stone) to cut their throats,” he said.
Accounts written by Spanish priests soon after Spain conquered the Aztecs in 1521 indicated that the tribe had sacrificed children, and archaeologists have since discovered the remains of some Aztec children who had been offered to the rain god.
The Aztecs believed that sacrificed children would become the servants of Tlaloc and bring more rain, said archaeologist Victor Arribalzaga, who is excavating a temple to Tlaloc on the eastern outskirts of Mexico City. The new evidence suggests that the Toltecs may have had similar beliefs.
The skeleton of a child between 5 and 8 years old is displayed in the archaeological zone of Tula, on Monday. Archeologists of the Anthropology and History National Institute of Mexico have found 24 remains of children that are believed to be more than 1,000 years old, and might be remains of a sacrifice to the Aztec rain God Tlaloc.