Researchers have discovered an ancient temple in Mexico of a pre-Hispanic fertility god that priests worshiped by skinning victims and wearing their skins.
The Associated Press reported that recent excavations of Popoluca Indian ruins in the central state of Puebla. Mexico, led to the discovery of two skull-like stone carvings and a stone trunk depicting the god Xipe Totec.
Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History explained that priests worshiped the deity by skinning human victims and then wearing their skins as a means to ensure fertility and regeneration.
The temple is believed to have been built by the Popolucas between A.D. 1000 and 1260, before they were conquered by the Aztecs.
Experts say that the victims were likely killed in gladiator-style combat, with the layout of Tehuacan temple suggesting they were skinned on another platform.
University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie commented that "finding the torso fragment of a human wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim is perhaps the most compelling evidence of the association of this practice and related deity to a particular temple, more so to me than the two sculpted skeletal crania."
Gillespie added that the Aztec practice "was to perform the sacrificial death in one or more places, but to ritually store the skins in another, after they had been worn by living humans for some days. So it could be that this is the temple where they were kept, making it all the more sacred."
Orthodox Christian author Rod Dreher wrote on The American Conservative website that the discovery is a reminder of the type of brutalities that occurred in the region before the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs in the 16th century.
"When you hear people condemning the Spanish conquest for what it did to the native inhabitants, think of the fact that within a decade of the Spanish conquest, human sacrifice ended. That is something to be grateful for, and indeed proud of. We do not need to believe that the conquistadores were saints — they certainly were not — to recognize this," Dreher argued.
He added that, for a Christian, what matters is that the Gospel is true.
"The Spanish, whatever their grievous faults and wicked motivations, nevertheless carried with them true religion," he positioned.
Dreher said that believing that the native peoples of Mesoamerica lived a peaceful life before the Spanish Christian colonialists, or the opposite extreme — believing that the conquistadores led to peace and justice — is "sentimental claptrap."
"We are not required to believe falsely that there is no moral difference between the Aztecs and the Spanish, and the civilizations they represented. A civilization that practices mass human sacrifice is objectively worse than one that outlaws it," he wrote.
"And, for Christians, a civilization that, however grievously flawed, proclaims the truth of Christ is objectively better than one that denies it."