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The Offering of Life: Human and Animal Sacrifice at the West Plaza of the Sacred Precinct, Tenochtitlan

Ximena Chávez Balderas, Templo Mayor Project and Tulane University, Junior Fellow 2016–2017

My dissertation research was composed of two main phases: bone analysis and historical source analysis. The first was conducted at the Templo Mayor Museum, the second at Dumbarton Oaks. The library’s written sources and codices made it possible to understand the osteological evidence in the context of the rituals conducted by the Mexica priests. The library also has an important collection covering theoretical approaches to sacrificial practices. I am grateful to the interlibrary loan team for providing me with books on human and animal osteology, forensic, and paleopathology. Thanks to this generous support, I worked on five chapters of my dissertation. The first evaluates attitudes toward sacrifice from the arrival of the Spaniards to the present. The second analyzes the nature and function of sacrifice among the Mexica. In the third chapter, I conducted research on the “actors” involved in sacrifice, with an emphasis on nature and symbolism of victims (human and animal). In the fourth chapter, I analyzed sacrificial techniques; in the fifth chapter, I evaluated postsacrificial treatments by combining osteological and historical information.