For decades, archaeologists thought the ancient Aztec Death Whistles were nothing more than disturbing skull-shaped toys for Aztec children. They studied how they looked, how they were made, and where they were found. But nobody thought to blow into one. When they did, they found that the disquietingly decorated skull-shaped clay objects made a spine-chilling noise described by one archaeologist as “the scream of a thousand corpses”. Yeah, they’re that creepy.
The ancient Aztec Death Whistle is typically shaped like or decorated as a human skull. They were first associated with Aztec death rituals after two samples were found in the skeletal hands of a sacrificed 20-year-old male in a temple at Tlatelolco. Scientists are unsure what they were used for, but some believe they were used in the sacrifices of slaves, possibly as a signal to begin pulling their hair out (one of the earlier steps of the sacrificial process). Others think they may have been used to create a “battle cry” to frighten enemies.
Check out the sound of an Aztec Death Whistle below.
Image CreditsAztec Death whistle via Discovery by Roberto Velazquez
Skeleton of man buried at wind god temple, Tlatelolco, with death whistle in hand via Mexicolore