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AIS 101: Dec. 2, 2013 Today, Begin Lecture on Human Sacrifice in Mesoamerica. Return Midterm Exam #2. Tomorrow, Continue Lecture on Human Sacrifice. Wed.,

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Presentation on theme: "AIS 101: Dec. 2, 2013 Today, Begin Lecture on Human Sacrifice in Mesoamerica. Return Midterm Exam #2. Tomorrow, Continue Lecture on Human Sacrifice. Wed.,"— Presentation transcript:

1 AIS 101: Dec. 2, 2013 Today, Begin Lecture on Human Sacrifice in Mesoamerica. Return Midterm Exam #2. Tomorrow, Continue Lecture on Human Sacrifice. Wed., Guest Lecture by Crit Callebs Thur., Topic to be Determined Fri., discuss questions for final exam; review some of the most important things we have learned this quarter; give you a summary of your scores and overall percentage

2 Our Last Day of Class is Friday, Dec. 6 Attendance is Required of All Students The Day of Ultimate Epistemological Enlightenment!

3 What are the four sources of Information on Mayan Human Sacrifice? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each one? Describe the osteological taphonomic evidence for Maya human sacrifice presented in class, did you find it convincing? Why or why not? This Question Will Be On The Final Exam

4 What Are The Sources of Information on Mayan Human Sacrifice? Spanish Accounts Maya Writing, Inscriptions, and Art Contextual Evidence Osteological Evidence

5 Human Sacrifice in the Larger Anthropological Context Etruscan Tomb Painting ca. 700 B.C.

6 Human Sacrifice was Practiced by Many Cultures Canaanites 3500 – 1100 B.C. Carthaginians 300 – 140 B.C. Chimu and Inca – A.D – 1535 Gauls 500 B.C. – A.D. 300 Scythians 700 B.C. – A.D. 600 Polynesians A.D and earlier And others…..

7 The Crusades

8 Important Points to Ponder as We Study Anthropology and History: Cultural Relativism—an individual’s actions and beliefs must be evaluated in terms of their cultural context, not your own. And we should keep in mind that the ethics and morals of today can not be superimposed on the past…..right? But can these ideas be taken too far…can they imply that there are no universally immoral acts?

9 The Aztecs

10 Tenochtitlan: Capital of the Aztec Empire

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13 Huitzilopochtili’s strength must be replenished for his daily battles

14 Archaeological Evidence for Human Sacrifice at Tenochtitlan and Surrounding Regions Bound and Decapitated Individuals at Teotihucan (100 – 600 C.E.) (Sugiyama 2004) At Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, skulls with perforations for display on “skull racks” (Smith 2011 and References Therein) and associated ritual items Archaeological Samples from Electra, Tlatelocoma and Tlateloco (Pijoan and Lory 2007) And other sources:

15 170 Skulls from Tlateloco near the Main Temple Complex

16 Evidence of Cannibalism and/or Human Sacrifice at Electra and Tlatelocoma Intentional bone breakage Evidence of exposure to heat Anvil or hammerstone abrasions Cutmarks Extensive absence of certain bones such as vertebrae and coxae Bone polishing

17 The Aztec world existed in a delicate harmony maintained by placating the deities To them, sacrifices not murder, religious obligations Human Sacrifice also had political significance In many ways the Aztecs were a very moral and sophisticated society Aztec Human Sacrifice

18 Aztec Poets elaborated on the nobility of a death upon the sacrificial alter: “Perhaps thou wilt merit death by the obsidian knife.” (de Sahagun 1577) “May his heart not falter. May he long for the flowery death by the obsidian blade. May he savor the scent, savor the freshness,and savor the sweetness of the darkness.” (de Sahagun 1577)

19 The Maya were ruled by kings who had priest-like functions

20 Blood Rituals

21 Skullrack at Chichen Itza Photo from on 30 Nov 2006

22 Bonampak Mural

23 There are lots of scholarly data on human sacrifice among the Maya Tiesler and Cucina 2007

24 Maya Human Sacrifice

25 What was the role of human sacrifice in Maya religion? An invisible sacred quality (k’uh) inhabited all things in the universe The world was an ordered place, controlled by an array of deities, humans must behave property and observe certain rituals or the deities would be unhappy

26 The aim of bloodletting and human sacrifice was to offer (k’uh) to the dieties These rituals were not common but occurred for major events the dedication of a new temple or inauguration of a new ruler Captured rulers were decapitated Removal of the heart Offerings of incense flowers and food are made today by the Maya

27 What Are The Sources of Information on Mayan Human Sacrifice? Spanish Accounts Maya Writing, Inscriptions, and Art Contextual Evidence Osteological Evidence

28 Spanish Accounts Numerous accounts but the authenticity can be questioned, at least the scale they describe.

29 Maya Written Sources Pre-Conquest Maya Written Sources Madrid, Dresden, Paris, and Grolier Codices. Axe Event Glyphs on Stelae.

30 Mayan Stelae Lord K’awk 724 – 785 A.D.

31 Chichen Itza Temple of The Jaguars

32 Are These Images Just a Form of Religious Metaphor?

33 Maya Art Drawings on Stelae 11 and 14 from Piedras Negras

34 Popul Vuh

35 Chichen Itza Temple of The Warriors

36 What are the Sources of Information on Mayan Human Sacrifice? Spanish Accounts Maya Writing, Inscriptions, and Art Contextual Evidence Osteological and Evidence

37 Maya Human Sacrifice? Contextual Evidence

38 Tomb Below Bonampak Acropolis

39 The Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza

40 “into this well they had the custom of throwing men alive, as a sacrifice to the gods in time of drought.” “They also threw into it many other things, like precious stones and things that they prized.” -de Landa

41 Contextual Archaeological Evidence The Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza Numerous Human Bones Recovered, mostly male subadults (Tiesler 2005 and Alanis 2004)

42 Internment Burials at El Trapiche

43 Internments in Mound E – 37 ( from Fowler 1984:606)

44 Why are they interpreted as sacrificial victims? Ritual preparation of bodies but lack of grave goods or prepared graves. All that could be identified were adult males Body positions—face down hands and feet in positions suggest they were bound Three burials were “trophy heads”, one was decapitated, one with severed limbs, two cut in half at the waist, one with a severed foot and one with a mutilated foot

45 Burial 11 from Structure E-37

46 Osteological Taphonomic Evidence (Tiesler and Cucina 2006)

47 Tiesler, Vera and Cucina Andrea 2006 Procedures in Human Heart Extraction and Ritual Meaning: Taphonomic Assessment of Anthropogenic Marks in Classic Maya Skeletons. Latin American Antiquity 17:

48 What is Taphonomy? The study of the processes that affect animals and plants from the time they die until they either disintegrate or become fossilized. Greek for the laws of burial.

49 Taphonomic Inferences Patterns of anthropogenic lesions may permit us to distinguish the probable cause of death Perimortem violence is prone to leave unhealed lesions in the form of fractures, stab marks and sharp force trauma in fresh bone, sometimes these marks can be difficult to distinguish from postmortem damage.

50 Sacrificial Perimortem Heart Removal would likely leave diagnostic fractures and cutmarks.

51 There is debate about how exactly the heart would be removed.

52 Skeletal Data From Three Classic Period Maya Sites

53 Burial II sub-6a, Calakmul

54 12 th Thoracic Vert from Burial II sub-6a, Calakmul

55 Burial 1013, Becan

56 12 th Thoracic Vert. from Burial 1013, Becan

57 Burial XIIIsub-2 Palenque

58 Cutmarked/Chopped bones from Burial XIIIsub-2 Palenque

59 A Procedural Reconstruction - Common pattern of spine affected ventrally and ventrolaterally (left) at level of 10 th to 12 th vert. - All cutmarks are regular and straight, penetrated 1-4 mm and compress the impacted bone without displacing the bone to either side - All lesions have same morphology, likely made by similar procedures and tools -Absence of cuts on sternum or anterior ribs

60 Experimental Replication Three approaches to heart replicated on cadavers with obsidian knives: horizontal and parasternal transthoracic access and subthoracic transdiaphragmatic access. Tests also preformed on effects of removing other organs Most efficient means of heart removal by horizontal access beneath lower ribs, leaves traces on lower thoracic verts.

61 Other Possible Sources of The Cutmarks Post-mortem evisceration/cleaning Rodent gnawing Root etching Post-depositional disturbance Excavation damage


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