Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2017

Thesis Advisor(s)

Richard Sosis, Natalie Munroe

Honors Major



Archaeological Anthropology | Folklore | Social and Cultural Anthropology


For decades, archaeologists have researched the fascinating finds of Aztec sacrifice. Evidence of their sacrifices are seen on temple walls, stone carvings, bones, and in Spanish chronicler drawings. Although public ritual sacrifice was practiced before the Aztecs, with evidence from the Olmec civilization (1200-1300 BCE) and Maya (200-900 BCE), Aztec sacrifices are among the most extensively documented. How does such a practice survive in different civilizations through different rulers? This thesis will analyze the phases of Aztec public ritual sacrifice (specifically the location, length, and number of sacrifices) and the close relationship to their origin myths, or founding stories. It will also use anthropological theories of ritual to explain how ritual sacrifice functions.