What was the death whistle of the ancient Aztecs used for?


The Aztecs are an indigenous people of the Americas who lived in what is now Mexico. Since the Aztec culture is very rich, a huge number of books have been written about them and films have been made. In 1999, during the excavations of the Aztec city-state of Tlatelolco, archaeologists were able to open the temple of the wind god Eekatl.

Inside, they found the skeleton of a man with a clay whistle in his hand. Scientists immediately decided that this artifact was intended for a ritual – apparently, it was carried out about 650 years ago, long before the “discovery” of the American continent by Christopher Columbus.

Finding nothing of interest in the whistle, archaeologists simply put it in the archive marked “ritual decorations.” But one day, a scientist Arnd Both, who studied the musical instruments of ancient civilizations, decided to clean the holes of the whistle and blow into it. Instead of a piercing whistle, he heard something similar to heartbreaking screams.

Studying the “death whistle” of the ancient Aztecs

The Aztec whistle, which makes eerie sounds, was immediately given the name “death whistle”. The news that the find in the ancient temple was not just a trinket immediately attracted the attention of many other archaeologists. Engineer Roberto Velasquez joined the work of Arnd Botha, who decided to find out as many details as possible about the design.

The discovered whistle attracted a lot of attention

It turned out that the seemingly primitive whistle has a very complex structure. The researcher tried to create copies of it, but the sounds they made were either not creepy at all, or too quiet. Luckily, through hard work, he finally managed a whistle that made the same sound as the original.

The scientist noted that thanks to this archaeological finding, ancient civilizations finally “gained a voice”, because until now they were dumb. Thanks to the sounds of the whistle, scientists began to better understand how the ancient Aztecs felt and how they perceived the world.

Death whistle sound

After an important achievement, ancient whistles began to be found throughout Mexico. Archaeologists managed to find artifacts in the form of skulls, animals and fantastic creatures. The most ancient Aztec whistle turned out to be a specimen in the form of a frog.

An analysis of its surface and other features showed that it was made in 400 BC. It turns out that this is a very ancient instrument and the terrible sounds of the “whistle of death” sounded in very distant times.

Archaeologists managed to find a huge number of death whistles

What were the “death whistles” for?

What exactly these whistles were intended for, scientists still do not know for sure. One of the plausible versions says that they were used during rituals – the Aztecs had a huge number of them, so it is difficult to determine in which one.

According to the second hypothesis, whistles with scary sounds were used to intimidate enemies. Indeed, if you hear the heart-rending cries of the Aztec whistle in the dark, and even in the dense jungle, you can literally put your pants on!

Perhaps the whistles were intended to intimidate enemies

At the moment, the Aztec “death whistles” are a popular item among tourists. They can be bought in souvenir shops in almost all of Latin America. Also, people really like the performances, during which the descendants of the Aztecs share interesting facts and demonstrate the work of the whistle. Watch the video below – the sounds that the ancient artifact makes make you feel chills on your skin!


A man demonstrates the operation of a whistle

How did the Aztec civilization die?

The fall of the Aztec civilization began in 1519, when the Spaniards arrived in America. At this point, about 25 million Aztecs lived in Mexico, but then their number began to decline rapidly. It is believed that they did not have immunity to diseases brought from overseas countries, which caused serious epidemics – after them and the victory of the Spaniards, the Aztecs numbered only a million people.

There is good reason to believe that the most devastating disease was caused by salmonella, disease-causing rod-shaped bacteria.

The Aztecs most likely exterminated these tiny bacteria.

Another mysterious civilization is the Maya. The most famous invention of the representatives of this people is the calendar – it was because of it that the whole world believed that in 2012 the end of the world would come.

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