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Mayan Crypt Reveals Power of Women
Nature ^ | 10 June 2005 | Alexandra Witze

Posted on 06/10/2005 6:27:20 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Murder victims suggest female strength in ancient culture.

Archaeologists have entered a long-sealed crypt in Guatemala to find an ancient murder scene. The tomb, in the ancient city of Waká, contains the remains of two women, one pregnant, arranged in a ritual tableau.

Researchers say the young, wealthy women were probably slaughtered as part of a power struggle between Mayan cities. And that, they say, sheds new light on the role of women in the Mayan culture 1,600 years ago.

"This tomb tells us that women were extremely powerful," says Dorie Reents-Budet, a Maya specialist who works for the Smithsonian Institution from North Carolina. "When there were political disagreements, women were killed."

Waká, also known as El Perú, lies by the San Pedro River about 60 kilometres west of the more famous site of Tikal. Once thought to be a minor player in the Maya world, Waká has recently emerged as a key pawn in the bitter rivalry between the cities of Calakmul, to the north, and Tikal.

Women probably played an important role in those battles, says David Freidel, an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, who co-directs the excavations at Waká. When one Maya group conquered another, it may not have been enough to simply invade and take over. It may also have been standard practice to slay women of the elite class.

"The usurpation of power may have required the ritual and public extinction of the immediate family line," says Freidel, who runs the Waká project with archaeologist Héctor Escobedo of the University of San Carlos in Guatemala City.

Excavations at other Maya tombs had hinted at the bloodiness of such takeovers, but the findings at Waká are some of the best documented and most detailed yet.

Death of warriors

Waká reached its height between AD 400 and 800; the newfound tomb dates to the beginning of that reign, between about AD 350 and 400. It is at least two centuries older than a queen's tomb found at Waká last year.

Graduate student Michelle Rich uncovered the tomb in late April as she excavated one of three pyramids atop Waká's highest hill. Guatemala's minister of culture announced the discovery last week.

Inside the tomb, both women had been carefully arranged. The pregnant one was laid face down with the other woman on top, face up. Both had shells and ear decorations arranged by their skulls. Stingray spines had been placed near their groins, a possible sign that they were regarded on the same level as warriors, says Freidel. Their deaths would have made a powerful political statement, he says.

The tomb also contained a handful of elaborately painted ceramic vessels. "This is the good stuff," says Reents-Budet, comparing the pots to the Mayan equivalent of delftware.

The artefacts and bones have been moved to the project's laboratory in Guatemala City, where they can be studied further.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Mexico; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeology; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; maya; mayan; mayans
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1 posted on 06/10/2005 6:27:20 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway; SunkenCiv

Nick -- you are finding a lot of interesting articles! :)


Civ --

GGG PING


2 posted on 06/10/2005 6:29:56 PM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: Xenalyte
Stingray spines had been placed near their groins, a possible sign that they were regarded on the same level as warriors, says Freidel.

Ping.

3 posted on 06/10/2005 6:31:37 PM PDT by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
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To: nickcarraway
Ya know... I woulda thought that the killers were the more powerful; as opposed to the killees.
4 posted on 06/10/2005 6:32:00 PM PDT by Redcloak (We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces singin' "whiskey for my men and beer for my horses!")
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To: nickcarraway

archeologists get so much wrong it is hard to believe them when they start inserting PC policy.

Was this not the culture that was viewed as a bunch of peaceful astronomical calendar watchers until a wall painting depicting blood sacrifices and bloody wars?


5 posted on 06/10/2005 6:32:31 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: nickcarraway

The use of stingray spines in bloodletting ceremonies
is well documented and the blood used to write messages
to gods which were then ritually burned.
This was an obligation of the ruling class, so one could
infer that these two women were of that class.
It doesn't give any hint about their deaths though, interesting positioning of the bodies...


6 posted on 06/10/2005 6:34:03 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: Redcloak

killeeeeees

... ah the glories of PC.

Doublespeak rides again.


7 posted on 06/10/2005 6:34:38 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: nickcarraway
Researchers say the young, wealthy women were probably slaughtered as part of a power struggle between Mayan cities.

Oh yeah, right. The slaughtering of women makes women powerful . . . .puleeeeese.This makes it sound like women are the most powerful sex in Islam then, too . . . .

8 posted on 06/10/2005 6:35:06 PM PDT by WIladyconservative (Be an active member of the pajamahadeen - set up a monthly donation to FR!!)
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To: longtermmemmory

longtermmemmory wrote:
archeologists get so much wrong it is hard to believe them when they start inserting PC policy.

Was this not the culture that was viewed as a bunch of peaceful astronomical calendar watchers until a wall painting depicting blood sacrifices and bloody wars?


--Wait until the future, millions of years from now, i wonder how PC archealogists will portray TROP(tm).


9 posted on 06/10/2005 6:36:00 PM PDT by 1FASTGLOCK45 (FreeRepublic: More fun than watching Dem'Rats drown like Turkeys in the rain! ! !)
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To: nickcarraway

The ancient Mayans were the world's first Democrats. When things went wrong, they blamed the women.


10 posted on 06/10/2005 6:36:14 PM PDT by Enterprise (Coming soon from Newsweek: "Fallujah - we had to destroy it in order to save it.")
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To: nickcarraway
The bloodletting was done as depicted on the stele from the cover of "Blood of Kings". The tongue was slit and a rope of thorns used to keep the blood flowing, obviously the use of ethnobotanicals was well known, at least enought to allow the participent to complete the ceremony with out disgracing themselves.


11 posted on 06/10/2005 6:40:15 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: longtermmemmory
Was this not the culture that was viewed as a bunch of peaceful astronomical calendar watchers until a wall painting depicting blood sacrifices and bloody wars?

I sat at a lunch table once listening to a radical feminist protest how oppressive the Spanish were when they invaded Mexico. When I pointed out to her that the Spanish received help from tribes who were the sacrificial victims in Aztec religious festivals where they ritually murdered thousands at a time, including roasting and eating the victims, she said that this was okay because they were of the same race and therefore not racist.

She was a political science major. What a wasted education of time and money and a mind.

12 posted on 06/10/2005 6:46:20 PM PDT by stripes1776
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To: nickcarraway

Maybe the stingray spines were just some kinky fad.


13 posted on 06/10/2005 6:46:48 PM PDT by gitmo (Thanks, Mel. I needed that.)
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To: stripes1776

Ive heard a lot worse than that from biology and chemistry professors. Guess we should diss all those majors too huh?


14 posted on 06/10/2005 6:51:26 PM PDT by Windsong (FighterPilot)
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To: nickcarraway

How the heck does to women beign DEAD contribute to an argument of their STRENGTH? I'm starting to see how people might thing Carter was a good president, apparently failing miserably on a grand enough scale means you must have been a contender.


15 posted on 06/10/2005 6:54:26 PM PDT by kharaku (G3)
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To: nickcarraway

Somehow laying dead does not conjure up powerful.


16 posted on 06/10/2005 6:54:45 PM PDT by freekitty
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To: TADSLOS

Yowwwwsa


17 posted on 06/10/2005 6:55:49 PM PDT by expatguy (http://laotze.blogspot.com/)
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To: nickcarraway
"This tomb tells us that women were extremely powerful," ... "When there were political disagreements, women were killed."

Um, pardon my ignorance, but wouldn't their NOT being killed mean they were more powerful? It seems to me that power resides in the sacrificER, not the sacrificEE.

18 posted on 06/10/2005 7:00:33 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: stripes1776

What the poli sci professor overlooked was that the Aztecs did not consider their victims from other tribesto be of the same "race" and were therefore guilty of racist thinking.


19 posted on 06/10/2005 7:08:31 PM PDT by popdonnelly
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To: IronJack
Killing off the family of your rivals is as old as human history. Anyone who might hold the loyalty of subjects is a potential threat. Ask the English.

The women may have been of a royal class, and so, they got the best treatment. Anne Boleyn's executioner was imported from France.

20 posted on 06/10/2005 7:10:50 PM PDT by GVnana
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To: popdonnelly
What the poli sci professor overlooked was that the Aztecs did not consider their victims from other tribesto be of the same "race" and were therefore guilty of racist thinking.

Yes, the Aztecs considered themselves superior to other tribes. Is race a necessary condition for mass murder?

The communists in the old Soviet Union killed millions mostly of the same race as them. That is millions more than the National Socialists in Germany killed. Does that mean the fascists commmitted a greater crime than the communists? Than seems to be the reasoning among left-wingers. Some forms of mass murder seem to be acceptable to them, or at least should be ignored and not talked about.

21 posted on 06/10/2005 7:26:03 PM PDT by stripes1776
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To: longtermmemmory

Generally speaking, in a killing, you have a killer and a killee. I would argue that the killee is not the one in power.


22 posted on 06/10/2005 7:26:22 PM PDT by Redcloak (We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces singin' "whiskey for my men and beer for my horses!")
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To: GVgirl
Killing off the family of your rivals is as old as human history.

Yes indeed. In reading about the fall of Byzantium, the first thing the various emperors did was kill off any
blood lines that could pose a threat, although blinding
was often used instead.
23 posted on 06/10/2005 7:35:03 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: nickcarraway

I'm embarassed for the author of this article. Her reaching to find power for women in anything is pathetic.


24 posted on 06/10/2005 7:48:12 PM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: nickcarraway
Mzzzzzz. Witze, Mzzzz. Dorie Reents-Budet und ze udduh unnamed "researchers" extrapolate and assume much. ...typical. Zey earn ze reputation for their "movement."

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) :

Hysteric.] (Med.) A nervous affection, occurring almost exclusively in women, in which the emotional and reflex excitability is exaggerated, and the will power correspondingly diminished, so that the patient loses control over the emotions, becomes the victim of imaginary sensations, and often falls into paroxism or fits. [1913 Webster]
Note:
The chief symptoms are convulsive, tossing movements of the limbs and head, uncontrollable crying and laughing, and a choking sensation as if a ball were lodged in the throat. The affection presents the most varied symptoms, often simulating those of the gravest diseases, but generally curable by mental treatment alone. Hysteric

25 posted on 06/10/2005 7:48:47 PM PDT by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: WIladyconservative

No comment by the researchers on the brutal slaying of 2 women, 1 of them pregnant no less.


26 posted on 06/10/2005 7:50:49 PM PDT by TheDon (Euthanasia is an atrocity.)
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To: FairOpinion; nickcarraway; blam; Ernest_at_the_Beach; StayAt HomeMother; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; ...
Thanks FairOpinion for the ping. And ditto what she said to you, Nick. I had a good laugh though about the conclusions in the article, which were stated up front (and in the headline). "We found the remains of a couple of murdered Mayan women, therefore women must have had a very high status in their society." Reminds me of the "Burnt City" of Iran nonsense. But anyway, a very nice GGG topic.
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)

27 posted on 06/10/2005 7:54:20 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
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To: Redcloak

"I woulda thought that the killers were the more powerful..."

Not when it is likely a indoctrinated feminist graduate student "interpreting" the scene. Frankly, I doubt they have the slightest clue to what was going on. They think they know something, of course, but I'll wager they know even less correct information about past events than most academics know about today's events.


28 posted on 06/10/2005 7:54:33 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (NEW and IMPROVED: Now with 100% more Tyrannical Tendencies and Dictator Envy!)
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To: SunkenCiv

i wonder what some future archaeologist will make of our mess?

a drive by shooting in l.a.?

some guy getting a life sentence for helping his girlfriend abort, but she gets off.


29 posted on 06/10/2005 7:59:00 PM PDT by ken21 (if you didn't see it on tv, then it didn't happen. /s)
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To: tet68

Thank you for your commentary. It's nice to read someone with an educated mind posting something factual and, even better, intelligent once in a while. Wish it were more common.


30 posted on 06/10/2005 8:05:00 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: CobaltBlue

This might wreck your day, but women control all the _______ssy and all the money.


31 posted on 06/10/2005 8:11:40 PM PDT by Hilltop
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To: Hilltop

Whatever.

The point is that a ritual murder is an indication that the victims were considered powerful enough to kill in a special way, which is very interesting, regardless of the sex of the victims, but especially intriguing, given the particulars.

If you don't think so, and all you can do is mouth cliches, well, that's all you can do. God didn't give everybody a first class brain.


32 posted on 06/10/2005 8:20:07 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: Hilltop

I shouldn't have said that. You're just playing around, and I shouldn't have been nasty. Sorry.


33 posted on 06/10/2005 8:22:26 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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5,000 Years Ago, Women Held Power In Burnt City, Iran
Iranian WS | 12-23-2004
Posted on 12/24/2004 11:47:31 AM PST by blam
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1308060/posts

Ancient Earrings Discovered At Burnt City Disprove Ornament Theory
Tehran Times | 3-9-2005
Posted on 03/09/2005 5:46:51 PM PST by blam
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1359628/posts

Human Sacrifice Was Common In Burnt City (Iran)
Payvand | 12-27-2004
Posted on 12/28/2004 3:15:07 PM PST by blam
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1309803/posts


34 posted on 06/10/2005 8:27:35 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (FR profiled updated Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Fewer graphics, faster loading.)
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To: Redcloak
Ya know... I would thought that the killers were the more powerful; as opposed to the killees.

Like you I find the conclusions drawn by these authorities a little counter to common sense. I can't see how these women could be considered powerful. It sounds to me like all they really got was a nice funeral. The women themselves could have been considered prize property and their deaths more had a more symbolic effect than as an expression of these women's power alone. The artifacts that point to them as having warrior status could also mean they were killed an prisoners of war and were honored for that fact.

35 posted on 06/10/2005 8:33:41 PM PDT by foolscap
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To: stripes1776

"she said that this was okay because they were of the same race and therefore not racist...What a wasted education of time and money and a mind."

You sure there was a mind there to waste?


36 posted on 06/10/2005 8:34:24 PM PDT by dsc
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To: CobaltBlue

"The point is that a ritual murder is an indication that the victims were considered powerful enough to kill in a special way"

Do we know that? How do we know that the people who buried them were the same people that killed them?


37 posted on 06/10/2005 8:39:43 PM PDT by dsc
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To: dsc

Good point.This was all barbaric bs and people can interpret it any way.Sure kill off the blood lines of those who built and held knowledge but less of warfare.Many these party girls of now would have been apalled at the lack of grooming yet appreciate the multiple attention.Then,Zing!


38 posted on 06/10/2005 8:46:03 PM PDT by noodler
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To: foolscap

This is the first thing that leapt to my mind:

ROSS
Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes
Savagely slaughter'd: to relate the manner,
Were, on the quarry of these murder'd deer,
To add the death of you.

MALCOLM
Merciful heaven!
What, man! ne'er pull your hat upon your brows;
Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.

MACDUFF
My children too?

ROSS
Wife, children, servants, all
That could be found.

MACDUFF
And I must be from thence!
My wife kill'd too?

ROSS
I have said.

MALCOLM
Be comforted:
Let's make us medicines of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.

MACDUFF
He has no children. All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?

MALCOLM
Dispute it like a man.

MACDUFF
I shall do so;
But I must also feel it as a man:
I cannot but remember such things were,
That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on,
And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
They were all struck for thee! naught that I am,
Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!

MALCOLM
Be this the whetstone of your sword: let grief
Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.

MACDUFF
O, I could play the woman with mine eyes
And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,
Cut short all intermission; front to front
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
Within my sword's length set him; if he 'scape,
Heaven forgive him too!

MALCOLM
This tune goes manly.
Come, go we to the king; our power is ready;
Our lack is nothing but our leave; Macbeth
Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may:
The night is long that never finds the day.


39 posted on 06/10/2005 8:47:18 PM PDT by dsc
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To: noodler

Or perhaps that already happened in their way,their time.


40 posted on 06/10/2005 8:49:02 PM PDT by noodler
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To: dsc

Great mind or great leap, in all I'm impressed and therego certain semblence.


41 posted on 06/10/2005 8:54:13 PM PDT by noodler
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To: noodler

Yeah, it's a real loss to our culture that Shakespeare isn't widely taught any more.


42 posted on 06/10/2005 8:57:33 PM PDT by dsc
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To: Hilltop
"... women control all the _______ssy and all the money."

Is that you, Rush?

43 posted on 06/10/2005 8:58:38 PM PDT by oprahstheantichrist (...rethinking the Oprah thing. Watch Soros closely.)
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To: CobaltBlue

I've read enough anthropological literature to know that all over the world, stretching far back into the earliest beginnings of human civilization, human sacrifice has been practiced.

Generally, it was considered an honor to be sacrificed to the gods. The intended sacrifice was frequently treated like a king or queen, given much in the way of material goods and comforts, often for many years, before they were put to death.

These human sacrifices were often considered to possess much power and influence. They were thought to be able to carry messages from the people to their gods, to influence the wishes and actions of the gods, and the very sacrifice of their lives was proof that the people were worthy of the gods' favor.

From prehistoric Europe, to ancient China, to the ancient Middle East, human sacrifice was common in the early stages of civilization. The Mesoamerican civilizations of the Maya, the Aztecs, and others were rather unique in that human sacrifice continued long after these civilizations' formative stages.

Other civilizations soon replaced actual human sacrifice with such things as the burial of clay or metal statues in graves, or instituted symbolic acts using substitutes such as wine or grain in place of the blood and bodies of sacrificial victims.

Reading the replies to this post, I gather it is rather difficult for many in the year 2005 to transport their minds to a time and a place that is as far removed from present-day sensibilities as can be.

The world of the ancients is not our world.


44 posted on 06/10/2005 9:09:16 PM PDT by mucrospirifer
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To: oprahstheantichrist

Would you deny that giving women absolute veto power over all sexual activity gives them considerable power?


45 posted on 06/10/2005 9:12:09 PM PDT by dsc
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To: GVgirl
Anne Boleyn's executioner was imported from France.

And used a sword, not the traditional axe, her neck being too dainty for so crude an instrument as the latter.

46 posted on 06/10/2005 10:15:15 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: dsc

You're going to hate yourself in the morn


47 posted on 06/10/2005 10:46:46 PM PDT by noodler
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To: FairOpinion
I don't need no Mayan Crypt to know the power of a woman.
48 posted on 06/10/2005 10:47:33 PM PDT by Red Sea Swimmer (Tisha5765Bav)
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To: mucrospirifer

"Other civilizations soon replaced actual human sacrifice with such things as the burial of clay or metal statues in graves, or instituted symbolic acts using substitutes such as wine or grain in place of the blood and bodies of sacrificial victims.

Reading the replies to this post, I gather it is rather difficult for many in the year 2005 to transport their minds to a time and a place that is as far removed from present-day sensibilities as can be.

The world of the ancients is not our world."

Oh, I don't know. In our world we have the Christian religion, with the sacrifice of Christ, and the symbolic eating of the body and blood through communion. Sounds similar to me, just practiced in a more civilized manner.


49 posted on 06/10/2005 11:09:01 PM PDT by flaglady47
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To: Darkchylde

ping


50 posted on 06/10/2005 11:34:20 PM PDT by DJ MacWoW (If you think you know what's coming next....You don't know Jack.)
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