Spaniards slayed Aztecs who ate their comrades

New research suggests Spanish conquistadors butchered at least a dozen women and their children in an Aztec-allied town.

New research suggests Spanish conquistadores butchered at least a dozen women and their children in an Aztec-allied town where the inhabitants sacrificed and ate a detachment of Spaniards they had captured months earlier.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History published findings on Monday from years of excavation work at the town of Tecoaque, which means “the place where they ate them” in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs.

Residents of Tecoaque, captured a convoy of about 15 male Spaniards, 50 women and 10 children, 45-foot soldiers who included Cubans of African and Indigenous descent, and about 350 allies from Indigenous groups in 1520. All were apparently sacrificed over the space of months.

When he heard about it, conquistador Hernan Cortes ordered Gonzalo de Sandoval to destroy the town in revenge in early 1521.

Archeologist Enrique Martinez Vargas said excavations suggest the inhabitants of Tecoaque knew a reprisal attack was coming and tossed the bones of the Spaniards.

The townspeople also tried to erect some primitive defensive works along the main thoroughfare of the town, none of which worked when De Sandoval and his punitive expedition rode in.

“Some of the warriors who had stayed in the town managed to flee, but women and children remained, and they were the main victims,” the institute said in a statement.

“This we have been able to demonstrate over a 120-meter stretch of the main thoroughfare, where the skeletons of a dozen women were found who appeared to be ‘protecting’ the bones of 10 children between the ages of 5 and 6.”

Photos show children’s bones beside those of the adult females, with some of the women’s skulls or arm bones turned toward the youngsters.

“The placement of the burials suggest these people were fleeing, were massacred and buried hurriedly,” the institute said.

Special Reports