Temple to skinless deity Flayed Lord uncovered in Mexico

The first known temple to Flayed Lord, or Xipe Tótec, has been uncovered by archeologists in central Mexico.

(CNN)The ancient civilizations of Mexico left behind countless traces of their culture that attract visitors to this day -- but this latest find is one of the most gruesome yet.

Archeologists have uncovered the first known temple to the important pre-Hispanic deity called the Flayed Lord, who is represented by a human's skinless corpse.
The Flayed Lord, or Xipe Tótec, was linked with fertility, agricultural cycles and war, according to a statement from Mexican authorities released on Wednesday.
    A dig at Popoloca Indian ruins known as Ndachjian--Tehuacán in Puebla state, central Mexico, revealed two skulls and a torso from ancient statues of the deity.
    The Ndachjian--Tehuacan ruins were built by the Popoloca Indians

    Killed on one altar and skinned on the other

    A team from the National Institute of Anthropology and History also found two sacrificial altars, which would have been used as part of ceremonies in which priests skinned their victims before covering themselves in it as a sign of regeneration.
    These occasions were an important part of ancient Mexican culture and were known as Tlacaxipehualiztli, which means "put on the skin of the flayed" in the Náhuatl language.
    The layout of the site and the discovery of the sculptures matches with the description of the ceremonies in documentary sources, which suggest that victims were killed on one altar and skinned on the other.
    On one sculpture, an extra right hand hanging backwards from the left arm of the torso symbolizes the skin of the victim that was left hanging after the ritual flaying, say the archeologists.
    "Sculpturally it is a very beautiful piece," said archeologist Noemí Castillo Tejero of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in a press release. "It is around 80 centimeters tall and has a hole in the stomach that was used, according to sources, to put in a green stone and 'bring them to life' for the ceremonies."
    Each skull is around 70 centimeters tall and weighs about 200 kilograms.
    The sculpture was smashed to pieces as part of a ritual, according to the team, and they think they might find other parts of its body in future digs at the site, which would have been used between 1000 and 1260 AD before the Popolocas were conquered by the Aztecs.