Melitón Tapia/INAH

Archaeologists have found a temple to the ‘Flayed Lord’ in Mexico

One thousand years ago in what is now the Mexican state of Puebla, priests sacrificed captives, flayed their bodies, and donned their skins in a ritual dedicated to the god Xipe Tótec, or the “Flayed Lord.” Now, archaeologists have found the first temple dedicated to that deity at a site called Ndachjian-Tehuacán, The New York Times reports. The temple, built between 1000 and 1260 by the Popoloca people, contains two altars—likely one for the sacrifice and one for the flaying. Skins of victims may have also been stored there in between rituals, which were related to agricultural renewal and fertility. Sculptures of Xipe Tótec from the temple show his fleshless, grinning skull and, separately, his torso with an extra hand dangling off one arm (above), indicating that the god was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim.

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