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Evidence May Back Human Sacrifice Claims
My Way News ^ | 1/22/05 | MARK STEVENSON/AP

Posted on 01/23/2005 2:26:53 PM PST by wagglebee

MEXICO CITY (AP) - It has long been a matter of contention: Was the Aztec and Mayan practice of human sacrifice as widespread and horrifying as the history books say? Or did the Spanish conquerors overstate it to make the Indians look primitive? In recent years archaeologists have been uncovering mounting physical evidence that corroborates the Spanish accounts in substance, if not number.

Using high-tech forensic tools, archaeologists are proving that pre-Hispanic sacrifices often involved children and a broad array of intentionally brutal killing methods.

For decades, many researchers believed Spanish accounts from the 16th and 17th centuries were biased to denigrate Indian cultures, others argued that sacrifices were largely confined to captured warriors, while still others conceded the Aztecs were bloody, but believed the Maya were less so.

"We now have the physical evidence to corroborate the written and pictorial record," said archaeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan. He said, "some 'pro-Indian' currents had always denied this had happened. They said the texts must be lying."

The Spaniards probably did exaggerate the sheer numbers of victims to justify a supposedly righteous war against idolatry, said David Carrasco, a Harvard Divinity School expert on Meso-American religion.

But there is no longer as much doubt about the nature of the killings. Indian pictorial texts known as "codices," as well as Spanish accounts from the time, quote Indians as describing multiple forms of human sacrifice.

Victims had their hearts cut out or were decapitated, shot full of arrows, clawed, sliced to death, stoned, crushed, skinned, buried alive or tossed from the tops of temples.

Children were said to be frequent victims, in part because they were considered pure and unspoiled.

"Many people said, 'We can't trust these codices because the Spaniards were describing all these horrible things,' which in the long run we are confirming," said Carmen Pijoan, a forensic anthropologist who found some of the first direct evidence of cannibalism in a pre-Aztec culture over a decade ago: bones with butcher-like cut marks.

In December, at an excavation in an Aztec-era community in Ecatepec, just north of Mexico City, archaeologist Nadia Velez Saldana described finding evidence of human sacrifice associated with the god of death.

"The sacrifice involved burning or partially burning victims," Velez Saldana said. "We found a burial pit with the skeletal remains of four children who were partially burned, and the remains of four other children that were completely carbonized."

While the remains don't show whether the victims were burned alive, there are depictions of people - apparently alive - being held down as they were burned.

The dig turned up other clues to support descriptions of sacrifices in the Magliabecchi codex, a pictorial account painted between 1600 and 1650 that includes human body parts stuffed into cooking dishes, and people sitting around eating, as the god of death looks on.

"We have found cooking dishes just like that," said archaeologist Luis Manuel Gamboa. "And, next to some full skeletons, we found some incomplete, segmented human bones." However, researchers don't know whether those remains were cannibalized.

In 2002, government archaeologist Juan Alberto Roman Berrelleza announced the results of forensic testing on the bones of 42 children, mostly boys around age 6, sacrificed at Mexico City's Templo Mayor, the Aztec's main religious site, during a drought.

All shared one feature: serious cavities, abscesses or bone infections painful enough to make them cry.

"It was considered a good omen if they cried a lot at the time of sacrifice," which was probably done by slitting their throats, Roman Berrelleza said.

The Maya, whose culture peaked farther east about 400 years before the Aztecs founded Mexico City in 1325, had a similar taste for sacrifice, Harvard University anthropologist David Stuart wrote in a 2003 article.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, "The first researchers tried to make a distinction between the 'peaceful' Maya and the 'brutal' cultures of central Mexico," Stuart wrote. "They even tried to say human sacrifice was rare among the Maya."

But in carvings and mural paintings, he said, "we have now found more and greater similarities between the Aztecs and Mayas," including a Maya ceremony in which a grotesquely costumed priest is shown pulling the entrails from a bound and apparently living sacrificial victim.

Some Spanish-era texts have yet to be corroborated with physical remains. They describe Aztec priests sacrificing children and adults by sealing them in caves or drowning them. But the assumption now is that the texts appear trustworthy, said Lopez Lujan, who also works at the Templo Mayor site.

For Lopez Lujan, confirmation has come in the form of advanced chemical tests on the stucco floors of Aztec temples, which were found to have been soaked with iron, albumen and genetic material consistent with human blood.

"It's now a question of quantity," said Lopez Lujan, who thinks the Spaniards - and Indian picture-book scribes working under their control - exaggerated the number of sacrifice victims, claiming in one case that 80,400 people were sacrificed at a temple inauguration in 1487.

"We're not finding anywhere near that ... even if we added some zeros," Lopez Lujan said.

Researchers have largely discarded the old theory that sacrifice and cannibalism were motivated by a protein shortage in the Aztec diet, though some still believe it may have been a method of population control.

Pre-Hispanic cultures believed the world would end if the sacrifices were not performed. Sacrificial victims, meanwhile, were often treated as gods themselves before being killed.

"It is really very difficult for us to conceive," Pijoan said of the sacrifices. "It was almost an honor for them."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Mexico; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeology; aztecs; clovis; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; humansacrifice; indians; mayans; preclovis; precolumbian; revisionism
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To: wagglebee

Every time I read articles like this I think back to an interesting little novel by Orson Scott Card that explored how history would be different if Christopher Columbus had not discovered the new world. The story postulates that without the diseases introduced by the Europeans, the Aztec & Co. cultures would rise to dominance in North America. It also raises the question - What's worse? A period of human slavery that followed European colonization? Or widespread human sacrifice? Very provocative.

21 posted on 01/23/2005 3:12:18 PM PST by Lil'freeper (Error 404. The requested file was not found.)
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To: biblewonk
"Dances with Wolves" where they made the Indians look like they were a utipian society ...

...they were a utipian society (emphasis on the tipi)

Just havin' fun with it; hundreds of others prolly saw the same thing and decided to let it go... I guess I'm too predictable.

22 posted on 01/23/2005 3:12:21 PM PST by Migraine
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To: denydenydeny

"Paraphrasing Team America World Police"

F**k yeah!

I loved that movie!

23 posted on 01/23/2005 3:12:34 PM PST by jocon307 (Ann Coulter was right)
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To: dangus

Doesn't the Aztec calendar end in 2012?

24 posted on 01/23/2005 3:17:20 PM PST by BurbankKarl
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To: denydenydeny

Do they think the historians that drew this stuff made it all up?

25 posted on 01/23/2005 3:19:39 PM PST by BurbankKarl
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To: Pookyhead
These are the guys who invented the phrase "Perception is Reality".

I have arguments with people like these. Their minds have been corrupted by marketing techniques. They actually argue that if you perceive something it is true. Sort of like our society today where equivocation is regarded as intelligence. Can't say what you think or know. You mus always equivocate so as not to offend the person you are talking to.

26 posted on 01/23/2005 3:45:46 PM PST by raybbr
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To: wagglebee
If you're interested in the nature of human superstition and the ritual that's predicated upon it, you can't do better than James Fraser's seminal anthropological work The Golden Bough. To anyone familiar with Fraser's work (packed with specific and detailed accounts) nothing wrought by the mind of primitive man is surprising.
27 posted on 01/23/2005 3:49:36 PM PST by Mr Ramsbotham (Laws against sodomy are honored in the breech.)
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To: wagglebee
Of course we are told that all cultures are of equal value and it would be racist to condemn the Aztec's "faith tradition."
28 posted on 01/23/2005 3:51:25 PM PST by Malesherbes
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To: Malesherbes

Just like the Muslim "faith tradition" of murdering thousands of "infidels."

29 posted on 01/23/2005 3:52:11 PM PST by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: wagglebee

But they respected the environment.

30 posted on 01/23/2005 3:53:36 PM PST by jackbill
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To: wagglebee
Human Sacrifice was also proven among the Phoenicians.
I do not understand the need to romanticize Indians. Like any other culture they had good aspects and bad ones. This image of the all knowing wise man or the Land o Lakes maiden is absurd.
31 posted on 01/23/2005 3:58:20 PM PST by Marano NYC
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To: BurbankKarl

The "Aztec calendar" has ended every year I've been alive, according to the Weekly World News, Sci-Fi channel, and every other quack.

32 posted on 01/23/2005 3:59:51 PM PST by dangus
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To: wagglebee

But I'm sure the Indians only killed what they could eat, and no more.

33 posted on 01/23/2005 4:04:57 PM PST by KidGlock (W-1)
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To: dangus

The End of the Mayan Calendar After Dec. 21, 2012

I confused the Alien Mexicans with the Blood Sacrifice onces.

34 posted on 01/23/2005 4:07:13 PM PST by BurbankKarl
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To: RadioAstronomer

35 posted on 01/23/2005 4:07:28 PM PST by Calpernia (
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To: wagglebee; BurbankKarl; denydenydeny
The woman who ended the Aztecs' Reign of Terror in the Americas:

36 posted on 01/23/2005 4:07:40 PM PST by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: denydenydeny

There is one thing suspicious about that drawing: the genitalia is covered up. I was in anthropology for a while and (while I am obviously not an expert) all the "human sacrifice" art we saw featured very naked captives. Genitalia was never coyly covered by a draped cloth or shielded by a bent let. It was always right out there. Emphasized, in fact, as if to gloat over the captive's naked humiliation.

37 posted on 01/23/2005 4:14:14 PM PST by wizardoz
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To: Pookyhead

>>>What they want to believe is what IS

Bill Clinton, is that you?

38 posted on 01/23/2005 4:15:26 PM PST by Calpernia (
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To: wagglebee; blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; ...
Thanks wagglebee.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

39 posted on 01/23/2005 4:18:18 PM PST by SunkenCiv (In the long run, there is only the short run.)
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To: denydenydeny

Oooh...that's gonna leave a mark.

40 posted on 01/23/2005 4:26:24 PM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie because they have to)
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