Mexican archaeologists have discovered what they say is the first temple of a pre-Hispanic fertility god known as the Flayed Lord who is depicted as a skinned human corpse.
The discovery is being hailed as significant by authorities at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History because it is a whole temple, not merely depictions of the deity, which have been found in other cultures.
Experts found two skull-like stone carvings and a stone trunk depicting the god Xipe Totec.
“It had an extra hand dangling off one arm, suggesting the god was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim,” the Associated Press reports.
“Priests worshipped Xipe Totec by skinning human victims and then donning their skins. The ritual was seen as a way to ensure fertility and regeneration,” according to the AP.
The temple was recently uncovered in excavated ruins of the Popoloca Indians in the state of Puebla in central Mexico.
The temple was built by the Popolocas between A.D. 1000 and 1260 at a complex known as Ndachjian-Tehuacan. Authorities believe the victims who lost their skin were involved in gladiator-style combat and were later flayed.