Do you know how in the Middle Ages kings used to display their enemies’ skulls at the entrance of their territories to intimidate their opponents? Or how today one of the best-known military strategies is diversion. You know, the use of feints or ruses to draw the enemy’s attention away and use it as an advantage to win a war.
Well, as it turns out, this tactic might have been used earlier, since pre-colonial America. A few years ago, archaeologists found at an Aztec temple in Mexico some odd items carved with skull shapes.
In the beginning, archaeologists believed they were toys or ornaments and stored them without giving them any attention at all. But recently, some experts discovered these were whistles and they believe they were death whistles that imitate the sound of a human scream. Why would they invent something like that? Stay with me and find out.
The Death Whistle
The skull-shaped objects were found about 20 years ago at the temple of the wind god Ehecatl. There were two of them. They were found in the hands of a sacrificed male skeleton.
Roberto Velázquez Cabrera, a mechanical engineer, founder of the Mexico-based Instituto Virtual de Investigación Tlapitzcalzin, was responsible for the finding. He has spent years investigating these odd creepy objects and finally came to the answer.
He discovered they were whistles and started to examine the sound they made. The first time the whistles were blown, the sounds were the creepiest he ever heard.
“The whistles make the sounds of humans howling in pain, spooky gusts of whistling wind or the ‘scream of a thousand corpses,” Roberto said.
He then continued his research, why would the Aztec invent such a terrifying artifact? What would their use be?
Roberto came to the conclusion that these whistles were a common instrument. However, there might be used as an instrument reserved for sacrifices. They were blown just before a victim was killed. What for? To guide their souls into the afterlife.
Nevertheless, it is also presumed the “death whistles”, as experts decided to call it, were also blown during a battle to intimidate their enemies. The whistles, in this case, were used as a psychological warfare instrument.
“Some historians believe that the Aztecs used to sound the death whistle in order to help the deceased journey into the underworld. Tribes are said to have used the terrifying sounds as psychological warfare, to frighten enemies at the start of battle,” Roberto added.
Can you imagine how they sound? A hundred Aztec warriors blowing hundred death whistles at the same time at the beginning of a battle… The psychological effect of hundred screams in unison might have been really terrifying for their enemies, no doubt.