Archaeologists Unearth 500-Year-Old Aztec ‘Starfish Altar’ in Mexico Believed to Have Been Dedicated to War
The ceremonial structure features a particular kind of starfish, known as "chocolate chip sea stars." Their mottled orange and black bodies resemble the skin of jaguars. The big cats are native to Mexico, and jaguar bones were also found in the altar.
Archaeologists in Mexico City made a striking discovery last year: a 500-year-old altar from the Aztec civilization, decorated with shells and 164 starfishes.
The artifact, which dates to around the year 1500, was found at the Templo Mayor Archaeological site in Mexico City.
The ceremonial structure features a particular kind of starfish, known as "chocolate chip sea stars."
Their mottled orange and black bodies resemble the skin of jaguars. The big cats are native to Mexico, and jaguar bones were also found in the altar.
Because of the jaguar motifs featured on the altar, and the location of the altar within Templo Mayor, archaeologists believe it was dedicated to war.
With the arrival of Hernan Cortes and Spanish forces in 1519, the Aztecs would soon be embroiled in a bloody conflict that would spell the end of their civilization.
Their descendants are now left to unearth the traces of that civilization.
In this case, that means researchers at Templo Mayor will be examining each of the altar’s 160 or so starfish, to learn more about their forebears.
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