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The work uncovered numerous animal remains including jaguars, pumas, spoonbills, deer and crocodiles. The research team examined these remains using stable isotope analysis, a technique that can determine the origin of elements present in the samples to give researchers an idea of where the animals came from and what they ate.
Mexican digs confirm grisly Spanish-era accounts
Some of these, called C4s, are often found in crops including the corn that was cultivated by Mesoamericans. C3s, alternatively, are found in this area more predominantly in wild plants. Sugiyama says that the relative quantity of these carbon isotopes can tell archaeologists whether the predators were feeding on wild herbivores like deer or owls, or domestic animals like turkeys fed on corn.
In other words, jaguar or puma remains with higher ratios of C4s were likely eating prey which fed on wild plants, while higher ratios of C3s suggest the cats were fed domestic animals in captivity. Sugiyama and crew also examined oxygen isotopes and found that some of the remains, as well as animal-derived products like jaguar pelts used in ritual practices, came from more distant parts of the Copan Valley—a finding that makes sense in light of the centuries of deforestation around the capital city.
They would have had to get them from other sources, most likely through trade.
The new research also provides more evidence of the strong relationship between Copan and Teotihuacan. The next step for Sugiyama is to conduct a strontium isotope analysis of the remains, which will give archaeologists a more detailed picture of where the jaguars and pumas may have come from in Mesoamerica. Continued work and future archaeological discoveries may give us an idea of the level of sustainability of the Mesoamerican jaguar trade. The archaeologists found that the remains buried at the monumental altar included four jaguars, five pumas and one smaller cat that may have been an ocelot or jaguarundi.
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Explorers uncover STUNNING relics used by ancient Mayans for human sacrifice
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Human Sacrifice in Late Postclassic Maya Iconography and Texts | SpringerLink
Sabloff, William Leonard Fash. Share Flipboard Email. Gill is a freelance classics and ancient history writer. They are also believed to be the first American culture to incorporate human sacrifice into daily life. Blood was viewed as an incomparable source of nourishment for Mayan deities. In a time before scientific understanding, human blood became the ultimate offering and was kept flowing to protect their daily way of life. These sacrificial rituals were held in such high regard that only prisoners of war of the highest status could be used for them; other captives were typically sent into the labor force.
The Ancient Maya and Human Sacrifice
The most common methods were decapitation and heart removal, neither of which would occur until the victim had been thoroughly tortured. The person to be sacrificed was often painted blue and adorned with a ceremonial headdress while being held down by four attendants. These four attendants represented the cardinal directions of north, south, east and west.