I'm a PhD student researching the role of mortuary archaeology in contemporary British society. Think of this as a scrapbook of all the interesting links, snippets of information and random bits and bobs I come across pertaining to death, dying and the dead. Enjoy?!


800 Years Of Human Sacrifice In Kent
British Archaeology #131 (July/August) has a feature by Pippa Bradley that caught my interest. It’s about a Wessex Archaeology dig in 2004-05 at Cliffs End farm in Thanet, a piece of north-east Kent that was an island up until the 16th century when silting finished connecting it to mainland England. What we’re dealing with here is ritual murder, some pretty strange disposal of the dead and ancient Scandinavian migrants.
Use of the site begins in earnest with six ring-ditch barrows during the Early Bronze Age (2200-1500 cal BC). These were poorly preserved and yielded few interesting finds. People then leave the barrows in peace for several centuries and don’t return to the site in any serious way until the Late Bronze Age shortly before 1000 cal BC. And that’s when the weirdness starts. Three round enclosure ditches are dug and re-dug, slighting five of the barrows. The ditches were found to contain household refuse, episodic feast remains and a burial or skull deposit (all shared with various pits inside the enclosures). And the smallest barrow gets slighted from another side by a continuous complex of at least 36 pits, some of them bearing evidence for re-cutting and re-use. The uncovered part measured 29 by more than 52 m. Here’s where the weirdness turns to horrors.

(Source: Science Blogs)

800 Years Of Human Sacrifice In Kent

British Archaeology #131 (July/August) has a feature by Pippa Bradley that caught my interest. It’s about a Wessex Archaeology dig in 2004-05 at Cliffs End farm in Thanet, a piece of north-east Kent that was an island up until the 16th century when silting finished connecting it to mainland England. What we’re dealing with here is ritual murder, some pretty strange disposal of the dead and ancient Scandinavian migrants.

Use of the site begins in earnest with six ring-ditch barrows during the Early Bronze Age (2200-1500 cal BC). These were poorly preserved and yielded few interesting finds. People then leave the barrows in peace for several centuries and don’t return to the site in any serious way until the Late Bronze Age shortly before 1000 cal BC. And that’s when the weirdness starts. Three round enclosure ditches are dug and re-dug, slighting five of the barrows. The ditches were found to contain household refuse, episodic feast remains and a burial or skull deposit (all shared with various pits inside the enclosures). And the smallest barrow gets slighted from another side by a continuous complex of at least 36 pits, some of them bearing evidence for re-cutting and re-use. The uncovered part measured 29 by more than 52 m. Here’s where the weirdness turns to horrors.

(Source: Science Blogs)


DEATH AND DIET: PERU’S SACRIFICIAL VICTIMS
Human sacrifices are the most infamous feature of ancient South American societies, but little was actually known about the victims? New research published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology explores archaeological evidence from Peru, dating to the Late Horizon era between 1450 and 1532 A.D.,  to tell us more about the individuals who met their fate.
Examining the final years
Evidence from bone collagen to hair keratin was used to examine where the sacrificial victims lived in the decade prior to their death, as well as their diets in the months leading up to the fatal ritual.
This study investigated two key variables—residential and subsistence—among sacrificial victims dating to the Late Horizon (A.D. 1450–1532) in the Huaca de los Sacrificios at the Chotuna-Chornancap Archaeological Complex in north coastal Peru.
The studied individuals date to the period of Inca imperial rule over the Lambayeque Valley Complex which included a radical social change to the culture and the installation of direct Inca political presence in some areas of the valley.
The investigators decided to test a hypothesis that the sacrificial victims were brought from outside the locality and would have eaten a diet that corresponded to their status as sacrificial offerings in the final months of life.
To do this, they used 33 sets of human remains from Huaca de los Sacrificios, where rib samples could be collected from 32 individuals. The central aim of the study was to examine only the last decade of the individuals life through to the final months. Given this, and the fact that obtaining samples for dentine collagen isotopic analysis is particularly intrusive, the team opted not to include teeth in this study and took all samples from ribs.

Read more here.

DEATH AND DIET: PERU’S SACRIFICIAL VICTIMS

Human sacrifices are the most infamous feature of ancient South American societies, but little was actually known about the victims? New research published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology explores archaeological evidence from Peru, dating to the Late Horizon era between 1450 and 1532 A.D.,  to tell us more about the individuals who met their fate.

Examining the final years

Evidence from bone collagen to hair keratin was used to examine where the sacrificial victims lived in the decade prior to their death, as well as their diets in the months leading up to the fatal ritual.

This study investigated two key variables—residential and subsistence—among sacrificial victims dating to the Late Horizon (A.D. 1450–1532) in the Huaca de los Sacrificios at the Chotuna-Chornancap Archaeological Complex in north coastal Peru.

The studied individuals date to the period of Inca imperial rule over the Lambayeque Valley Complex which included a radical social change to the culture and the installation of direct Inca political presence in some areas of the valley.

The investigators decided to test a hypothesis that the sacrificial victims were brought from outside the locality and would have eaten a diet that corresponded to their status as sacrificial offerings in the final months of life.

To do this, they used 33 sets of human remains from Huaca de los Sacrificios, where rib samples could be collected from 32 individuals. The central aim of the study was to examine only the last decade of the individuals life through to the final months. Given this, and the fact that obtaining samples for dentine collagen isotopic analysis is particularly intrusive, the team opted not to include teeth in this study and took all samples from ribs.

Read more here.


AZTEC SACRIFICES AT TENOCHTITLÁN
Offerings in the ancient Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlán (now in modern Mexico City) have been linked to the cycle of the agricultural seasons and involved human sacrifice to Quilaztli Cihuacóatl, one of the  Aztec goddesses of earth and fertility.
Ritual deposits
Two 500 year old ritual depositions were located at the corner of the platform north of Templo Mayor and consisted of various artefacts, including human skulls and polychrome pots and were the subject of a presentation in Mexico City this month.
According to the archaeologist Diego Jimenez Badilla, a researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History(INAH), these offerings “were part of a ritual in which Tenochca returns fertility to the land, in exchange for these offerings at each harvest. Such offerings were made  to the land via the earth and fertility goddess. “
The practice was discussed by the specialist at a recent conference in honour of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the discovery of the disc monolith on the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui, now in the Museo del Templo Mayor (MTM ).
Both offerings (No. 22 and No.58) were discovered in 1979 and 1980, on a floor level corresponding to the construction of Templo Mayor between 1469-1481 CE and in interpreting these elements together, he commented that “nothing is arranged in an offering by chance, everything has a reason.”

Read more here! 

AZTEC SACRIFICES AT TENOCHTITLÁN

Offerings in the ancient Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlán (now in modern Mexico City) have been linked to the cycle of the agricultural seasons and involved human sacrifice to Quilaztli Cihuacóatl, one of the  Aztec goddesses of earth and fertility.

Ritual deposits

Two 500 year old ritual depositions were located at the corner of the platform north of Templo Mayor and consisted of various artefacts, including human skulls and polychrome pots and were the subject of a presentation in Mexico City this month.

According to the archaeologist Diego Jimenez Badilla, a researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History(INAH), these offerings “were part of a ritual in which Tenochca returns fertility to the land, in exchange for these offerings at each harvest. Such offerings were made  to the land via the earth and fertility goddess. “

The practice was discussed by the specialist at a recent conference in honour of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the discovery of the disc monolith on the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui, now in the Museo del Templo Mayor (MTM ).

Both offerings (No. 22 and No.58) were discovered in 1979 and 1980, on a floor level corresponding to the construction of Templo Mayor between 1469-1481 CE and in interpreting these elements together, he commented that “nothing is arranged in an offering by chance, everything has a reason.”

Read more here


Indiana Jones missed the REAL Mayan skull - used in a game of ‘squash’ where the  losers would become human sacrifices
The ‘crystal skulls’ relics of ancient  American civilisations have all been exposed as fakes - but a Mayan carved skull  appears to be the real thing.
Not only that, experts believe the relic -  buried along with its owner between 250AD and 600AD - may have been a replica of  a ‘hand guard’ worn when the Mayans played a game not dissimilar to  squash.
There was one crucial difference, though - the  losers would sometimes become human sacrifices.

Click the photo to read the article in full!

Indiana Jones missed the REAL Mayan skull - used in a game of ‘squash’ where the losers would become human sacrifices

The ‘crystal skulls’ relics of ancient American civilisations have all been exposed as fakes - but a Mayan carved skull appears to be the real thing.

Not only that, experts believe the relic - buried along with its owner between 250AD and 600AD - may have been a replica of a ‘hand guard’ worn when the Mayans played a game not dissimilar to squash.

There was one crucial difference, though - the losers would sometimes become human sacrifices.

Click the photo to read the article in full!

 

Where child sacrifice is a business
The villages and farming communities that surround Uganda’s capital, Kampala, are gripped by fear.
Schoolchildren are closely watched by teachers and parents as they make their way home from school. In playgrounds and on the roadside are posters warning of the danger of abduction by witch doctors for the purpose of child sacrifice.
The ritual, which some believe brings wealth and good health, was almost unheard of in the country until about three years ago, but it has re-emerged, seemingly alongside a boom in the country’s economy.
The mutilated bodies of children have been discovered at roadsides, the victims of an apparently growing belief in the power of human sacrifice.

Shocking story via the BBC News Website

Where child sacrifice is a business

The villages and farming communities that surround Uganda’s capital, Kampala, are gripped by fear.

Schoolchildren are closely watched by teachers and parents as they make their way home from school. In playgrounds and on the roadside are posters warning of the danger of abduction by witch doctors for the purpose of child sacrifice.

The ritual, which some believe brings wealth and good health, was almost unheard of in the country until about three years ago, but it has re-emerged, seemingly alongside a boom in the country’s economy.

The mutilated bodies of children have been discovered at roadsides, the victims of an apparently growing belief in the power of human sacrifice.

Shocking story via the BBC News Website


Mass Grave of Children and Llamas Found in Dune
Seen earlier this month, archaeologist Oscar Gabriel Prieto kneels by the 800-year-old skeleton of a child recently unearthed near a fishing village in Peru. The skeleton was among the bones of 42 children discovered in a shallow grave on a sand dune near the town of Huanchaquito.
Alongside the children were 76 skeletons of camelids—most likely llamas but possibly alpacas—perhaps intended to transport the victims to the afterlife, researchers say.
Prieto’s team suspects the children were killed as part of a religious ceremony by the Chimú culture. Famed for irrigation advances, the Chimú occupied the northern and central coasts of Peru from about A.D. 1100 to 1500, when the culture was conquered by its neighbors, the Inca.
The newfound mass grave is just over half a mile (a kilometer) from the ancient Chimú capital of Chan Chan.
"That’s what makes this so interesting. Up to this point, all the Chimú ritual sacrifices and ceremonies in this area were made within Chan Chan," said Prieto, an archeology graduate student at Yale University.
"Now it’s clear that they were using the landscape" in their rituals as well. The team thinks the children and animals may have been sacrificed as part of a fertility ritual associated with the ocean.
"In the north coast of Peru, the ocean is very closely tied to agriculture," Prieto said, "because the temperature of the water can determine whether there will be rain or not."
(Also see “Ancient Tomb Found in Mexico Reveals Mass Child Sacrifice.”)

Click through to see more incredible images…

Mass Grave of Children and Llamas Found in Dune

Seen earlier this month, archaeologist Oscar Gabriel Prieto kneels by the 800-year-old skeleton of a child recently unearthed near a fishing village in Peru. The skeleton was among the bones of 42 children discovered in a shallow grave on a sand dune near the town of Huanchaquito.

Alongside the children were 76 skeletons of camelids—most likely llamas but possibly alpacas—perhaps intended to transport the victims to the afterlife, researchers say.

Prieto’s team suspects the children were killed as part of a religious ceremony by the Chimú culture. Famed for irrigation advances, the Chimú occupied the northern and central coasts of Peru from about A.D. 1100 to 1500, when the culture was conquered by its neighbors, the Inca.

The newfound mass grave is just over half a mile (a kilometer) from the ancient Chimú capital of Chan Chan.

"That’s what makes this so interesting. Up to this point, all the Chimú ritual sacrifices and ceremonies in this area were made within Chan Chan," said Prieto, an archeology graduate student at Yale University.

"Now it’s clear that they were using the landscape" in their rituals as well. The team thinks the children and animals may have been sacrificed as part of a fertility ritual associated with the ocean.

"In the north coast of Peru, the ocean is very closely tied to agriculture," Prieto said, "because the temperature of the water can determine whether there will be rain or not."

(Also see “Ancient Tomb Found in Mexico Reveals Mass Child Sacrifice.”)

Click through to see more incredible images…

Remains of Ancient Human Sacrifices Unearthed in Peru (PHOTOS)

archaeologicalnews:

Archaeologists have unearthed remains of 42 children and 74 llamas and related animals that were sacrificed some 800 years ago in the fishing town of Huanchaquito, Peru.

The remains were from a massive sacrifice that formed part of a religious ceremony of the pre-Inca Chimu culture for the fertility of the ocean and the land, Reuters reported.

Oscar Gabriel Prieto, chief archaeologist on the dig, said the findings represent the largest discovery of sacrifices from the Chimu culture.

Read more.

Human Sacrifice Found in Maya City Sinkhole

archaeologicalnews:

The bones of six humans—including two children—jade beads, shells, and stone tools are among the Maya “treasures” recently found in a water-filled cave off a sinkhole at the famous archaeological site of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, archaeologists say.

The ancient objects are most likely related to a ritual human sacrifice during a time when water levels were lower, sometime between A.D. 850 and 1250, the researchers say. Read more.