Did the Minoans practise human sacrifice?

Did the Minoans practise human sacrifice?

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Excavations on the hill of Kydonia, near Chania in Crete, where the third largest palace of the Minoan civilization was, revealed a small area fenced by rocks in the yard, with many animal bones and among them, the remains of a young woman. Another skeleton, of a young man, was found in a room in the "temple" of Anemospilia, in the northern end of Mount Iuktas, near Heraclion.

These finds have created a lot of discussion about human sacrifice in ancient Crete. Do we have conclusive evidence that the Minoans practised human sacrifice?

This is a matter of debate, the Anemospilia findings have been controversial since the site was first excavated in 1979, and the Kydonia findings are quite recent; the sceleton was discovered in 2010. Insofar there has been no conclusive study of the Kydonia findings, the excavations are on going and Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, the archaeologist responsible and General Director of Antiquities, has mentioned that it's still too early to tell.

Peter Warren first suggested human sacrifice as a possible interpretation for the skull fragments that he discovered in 1967 in the Early Minoan settlement in Fournou Korifi:

Just beside P574, to the south-west, lay the strangest find from the site, fragments (about a quarter in all) of a human skull. Like the pots the bone was burnt by the destruction fire, but the pieces were identifiable as those of a young adult male… No other bones, human or animal, were found. How is this skull to be interpreted? It was certainly not the remains of a burial, nor could it be a last inhabitant who had failed to escape at the moment of destruction; in both cases other bones would have survived. The skull can only have been an object as such, deliberately situated near the tripartite structure with central hearth. Thus the possibilities of ancestor worship or even human sacrifice cannot be ruled out.

Source: Peter Warren, 1972, Myrtos: an early Bronze Age settlement in Crete

The discovery of the bones of four children in a Late Minoan house near the palace centre of Knossos reinforced Warren's belief that the Minoans practiced human sacrifice. Both Warren and Nikolaos Platon supported the human sacrifice interpretation, while other scholars argued that the finds suggested a secondary burial. The more sensational interpretations included cannibalism:

Matters are even more complicated with the remains of four bodies that were found in Anemospilia. The building's design is unusually symmetrical and its function can't be deduced with certainty, although most authors call it a temple. Part of the uncertainty comes from the fact that it was partially destroyed by an earthquake and/or a fire in the 17th century BC and part from its unique - for the era - design. To make matters worst, Yannis Sakellarakis, who first excavated the area in 1979, didn't publish a report of his excavation.

Sakellarakis theorized that the one body, a young adult male, was the victim of human sacrifice and the other three bodies were the priests that were conducting the ritual, killed by the earthquake, in what could only be described as an extremely bizarre occurence of events. The young adult male was found on top of what appears to be an altar, with a knife resting on top of him, and Sakellarakis believed that the ritual was a panicked attempt to satisfy the gods as the seismic activity was getting stronger. The following is a picture of the remains of the alleged victim as it was found:

Dennis Hughes is particularly doubtful of the claims made by Sakellarakis. In Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece, he argues that the knife found on top of the body is actually a spearhead and that it could have easily dropped on top of the body from, for example, a shelf during the earthquake (pages 16-17). He is less critical of Warren's interpretations, and even presents some arguments in favour of Warren's interpretation for the childrens' bones found in Knossos (page 22).

Which brings us to Kydonia. The remains are 12 bones belonging to the same young - possibly adult - woman and were found in the courtyard of the palace, surrounded by animal bones. In the following picture the human remains are visible to the right and the horns of a Cretan Ibex are visible to the left:

Initial dating puts the finds at the end of the palace style period, the 14th or 13th century BC, an era when the Mycenaeans had moved into Crete. While there are certainly several evidence that suggest animals were regularly sacrificed in the courtyard, I'm afraid we can't yet conclusively answer if the human remains also belong to a victim of sacrifice.


Two thoughts, the first being that the skeletal type of the tall man at Anemospilia was non-Cretan, and dating the presence of Mycenaeans on Crete to when they took it over discounts the possibility of individuals or groups visiting earlier. These visits are entirely probable. Secondly, knife or cut marks on a body/bones do not a feast make. In the absence of crushed bones to get the marrow out, which seems to be present in most real cannibal finds, it can be a sign of defleshing the dead in preparation for burial. A practice done by many cultures, some even to this day. Some Native American Prairie tribes did it, some Indus cultures, etc etc. It seems that Cannibalism is far more sexy a headline than Defleshing ;)

This whole issue highlights a general problem with the fascinating world of Minoan archaeology- because we have no written record of this culture archaeologists are unwilling to interpret anything in the archaeological record, even if it is staring them in the face. The Minoans also have had an uneasy time of it recently because of the increasing realisation of the fact they were not "Greek", and although vastly superior to the Myceneans are often passed over in favour of them because the Myceneans were "Greek" and therefore must be more important. The Minoans were definitely the dominant influence over the Myceneans, it was never the other way round. They predated them by many centuries and their culture has a long and complex evolution which almost parallels that of the Egyptians, who may have influenced them. The Mycenean culture has nothing like the same level of sophistication. Hughes is almost ridiculous in his refusal to accept the dramatic Anemospilia evidence - "Its not a knife but a spearhead" So? He was sacrificed with a spear. The knife/spearhead placed in the middle of the victims chest "accidentally fell off a shelf" What? Could be, but look at what was actually in that building friend.

You don't specify a time period. In general, ritual human sacrifice was widespread in ancient times before about 500 B.C… As far as Crete in particular is concerned there is no reason to think it was any different than the rest of the ancient world and human sacrifice took place routinely. Mythologically, for example, there is the simple evidence of the legend of the Minotaur in which 7 girls and 7 boys were sacrificed to the Minotaur in the Labyrinth every year.

Unfortunately, due to social politics, it is difficult to get reliable research results on this subject. A typical problem is that many people do not want their country or ethnic group to be associated with human sacrifice or cannibalism, so evidence of such things happening tends to get suppressed or re-interpreted in a misleading way. During the pre-WWI period English and German archaeologists uncovered many examples of human sacrifice (in other countries of course) which led to the understanding by many that originally human sacrifice and cannibalism were universal. For example,

… human sacrifice has been widespread at certain stages of the [human] race's development… --International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

After WW2, especially, many countries have either kicked out foreign archaeologists or put them under strict controls to prevent them from publicizing "negative images" of the host country. This has led to a general suppression of evidence concerning human sacrifice.

Many archaeologists I suspect willfully suppress sacrifice findings, especially if the research is taking place in an area involving their own personal ethnic group. For example, I read one archaeological report concerning the excavation of a temple in the archaeologist's home country and right at the beginning of the report, practically in all caps bold letters it read "NO EVIDENCE OF HUMAN SACRIFICE WAS DISCOVERED DURING THIS EXCAVATION." And we can probably assume that if there had been, we definitely would not be hearing about it.

Why did the Olmecs practice human sacrifice?

The Aztecs were not the first civilization in Mesoamerica to practise human sacrifice as probably it was the Olmec civilization (1200-300 BCE) which first began such rituals atop their sacred pyramids. Other civilizations such as the Maya and Toltecs continued the practice.

Beside above, what happened to the Olmecs? The End of the Olmec Civilization San Lorenzo flourished on a large island in a river from about 1200 to 900 B.C., at which time it went into decline and was replaced in influence by La Venta. Around 400 B.C. La Venta went into decline and was eventually abandoned altogether.

Also, why did the Inca practice human sacrifice?

Qhapaq hucha was the Inca practice of human sacrifice, mainly using children. Children were selected as sacrificial victims as they were considered to be the purest of beings. These children were also physically perfect and healthy, because they were the best the people could present to their gods.

The Olmec were the first major civilization in Mexico. They lived in the tropical lowlands on the Gulf of Mexico in the present-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco. The Olmec are known for the immense stone heads they carved from a volcanic rock called basalt.

Did the Ancient Egyptians Practice Human Sacrifice?

Thanks to Hollywood, superstition and folklore, many people have long held the belief that Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs regularly buried alive their retainers and household when they died. It’s a long standing fallacy perpetuated by blockbuster films and pseudo Egyptologists that the Pharaoh took his wives, servants and officials with him to the Afterlife. It’s a myth that needs to be debunked but where did this erroneous belief arise? What appears to have happened is that a grain of truth has been turned into the Gospel truth and the most likely explanation is the following: Ancient Egyptians DID practice retainer sacrifice but not throughout their entire nearly four thousand year history.

First, the obvious question…why?

There were two main forms of human sacrifice in Ancient Egypt:

1.) The offering of a human being to a cult. These victims were often criminals or prisoners of war and were used to re-establish ‘cosmic order and emphasise the role of the King as its main guarantor.’ In some cases, sacrifice was a ritualised form of the death penalty.

2.) The killing of the retainers (servants) after the death of the King so that they could accompany him to the Afterlife. This article focuses on the second of these two instances since its the myth most commonly peddled to the general public. Why did the early Pharaohs do this? One idea put forward was that this was a way to flaunt their power. Pharaohs were revered as Gods in human form so it would be impossible to persuade people to willingly give up their lives if they did not believe in life after death. The belief was that what belonged to the Pharaoh on Earth, also belonged to him in the afterlife. This didn’t just include material possessions but people, like servants. This belief enabled the Pharaoh to enjoy the same lifestyle in the Underworld as he did in the living world. There has been some suggestion that retainers agreed to be sacrificed to obtain eternal life and elevate their status, in much the same way that we see celebrities whose value increases once they’re dead. This idea, however, hasn’t been taken up as readily as the belief that they were selected against their will and murdered simultaneously.

The custom of retainer ritual sacrifice occurred at the beginning of Pharaonic Egypt. The earliest cases dated from late Egyptian Prehistory, in the reign of Naqada II (Gerzean) (3500-3200 BC) when Egyptologists discovered decapitated bodies found in several cemeteries. The evidence of human sacrifice is more clearly seen in the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt while the capital was still in Abydos. The burial chamber of King Hor-Aha contained thirty-six graves of males all aged 20-25 who had died from strangulation. Egyptologist Jacobus Van Dijk proposed that, ‘given the uniform age of death that these men were all killed simultaneously’. In addition to these retainers, there were also six more graves found containing the remains of court officials, more servants and artisans.

Commencing with King Hor-Aha, the Pharaohs Djer, Djet, Den, Semerkhet, Queen Merytneith and Pharaoh Qaa all had numerous retainer sacrifices found within their tombs. King Djet, the grandson of Hor-Aha had 318 sacrifices buried with him, but altogether, the estimates appeared to be much higher, a possible 580 sacrifices.

It seems impossible that all these individuals died at the exact same time of natural causes leading Egyptologists to believe they were sacrificed to join their kings in the Afterlife. However, it wasn’t just kings that practiced retainer sacrifice. The huge palace façade mastabas of the First Dynasty found at Saqqara may not have belonged to kings, and if they didn’t belong to kings, it would mean that even private individuals of the high rank could have retainer sacrifices with their burials. Mastaba 3504 at Saqqara, which is associated with King Djet and is nearly twice as large as the king’s tomb at Abydos, and contained 62 retainer burials. Mastaba 3503, associated with Queen Merytneith, also had 20 subsidiary burials which were largely undisturbed. They contained the remains of the sacrificed servants and ‘the objects denoting their particular service to their royal mistress, such as model boats with her shipmaster, paint pots with her artist, stone vessels and copper tools with her vase maker, pots of every type with her potter, etc.’ This means that during this period retainer sacrifice was not an exclusively relegated to the royal domain.

In the Second Dynasty, the Kings moved their burial grounds from the ancestral cemetery at Abydos to Saqqara. The viewpoint that the practice of human sacrifice ended after the First Dynasty is the most commonly held opinion amongst academics in the field. There are, however, other views regarding Ancient Egyptian human sacrifice. Some egyptologists discredit human sacrifice and ritual collective suicide entirely. The proximity of the subsidiary graves has often been used to prove retainer sacrifices existed but it’s also been noted that graves close to the king was a standard practice that continued well into the Old Kingdom. There has also been disagreement over the idea that all the graves were built simultaneously.

On the other side of the coin is the argument that retainer sacrifice carried on well into the Middle Kingdom. The argument being based on the one discovery of a decapitated foreigner inside the Middle Kingdom tomb in Migrissa, which was part of the Egyptian empire in Nubia. While sacrifice disappeared in certain regions when Nubia was ruled by the Egyptians, there is evidence their practices of ritual sacrifice continued well into the 5th and 6th century AD. Van Dijk mentions evidence of cultic retainer sacrifice in smaller numbers occurring at Migrissa. This was Nubian sacrifice, not Egyptian. This was not a case of ‘Egyptians extending such practices’ beyond their borders’. It was a Nubian practice that trickled away during Egyptian rule only to be revived when Nubian rule over Egypt ended in 657 BC. When Nubia was an Egyptian colony, Van Dijk maintains that “Slaves were protected from grim Nubian customs such as retainer sacrifice.”

Who Were the Retainers?

The retainers found in the tombs of this period were mainly young males. Those around the age of 20 who were most likely a part of the royal guard. The women buried in the tombs were most probably servants, concubines and wives. Unfortunately, we know very little about the lives of the sacrificed retainers. It remains an obstacle to uncovering why the practice was discontinued in Early Dynastic Egypt.

Most people assume that the retainers were the Pharaoh’s servants in life, but it has also been suggested that the victims were selected from among the elite families of Egyptian society. This would make it symbolic of group unity and strengthen social bonds. It cemented the belief that by sacrificing some of their servants they contributed to the prosperity of the state, and demonstrated their loyalty to the king. The most common forms of dispatching servants was via strangulation, poison, slitting their throats, and being buried alive.

Why Did Retainer Sacrifice Stop?

Why was the practice of retainer sacrifice discontinued after the First Dynasty? There is no easy answer. A common assumption is that in Nubia the practice of retainer sacrifice was initially abandoned after the Kerma period because of the political and cultural colonisation of the area by the Egyptians. They had not practised retainer sacrifice for well over a millennium. The revived the practice of retainer sacrifice after the end of the Egyptian domination. The final abandonment of the practice appears to have been the result of the introduction of Christianity in Nubia.

Another idea proposed is that retainers didn’t see the need to die to accompany their ruler into the next world. The decline has also been attributed to the creation of Shabti figurines. Shabti figurines were representatives of the deceased and there to do their bidding or any tasks Osiris may call them to do in the Afterlife. There is some circumstantial evidence that the practice continued into the Second Dynasty with the discovery of wall niches that look like they could’ve been used for retainer graves in Abydos. There has even been a suggestion that there were retainer sacrifices as late as the Middle Kingdom (1680-1660 BC) in Tell ed-Dab’a where a burial was found containing donkeys, three human bodies, and an ox. There are suggestions that they may have been purposely killed to accompany their masters into the Afterlife but that remains questionable because the skeletons predate the tomb in which they were found.

There were also economic considerations sacrificed servants left a void for the surviving community. As Van Dijk points out, “The retainer burials excavated by Emery at Saqqara demonstrate that these people were not mere menial labourers but specialized servants, such as craftsmen, painters, potters, sailors etc., who were buried with the particular tools of their trade…These considerations are equally pertinent if, as seems likely, the sacrificed retainers were the deceased king’s own servants, for their deaths would then deprive his successor’s royal workshops of their expertise.” A conflict developed between the deceased king’s needs in the Afterlife and the economic considerations of his survivors. By the end of First Dynasty, the needs of the living outweighed the needs of the dead. Economics could’ve been the main reason for the decline in retainer sacrifice rather than ideological changes in Egyptian society.

This is still a hotly debated area amongst Egyptologists. It appears that Ancient Egyptians did sacrifice their servants to take them into the Afterlife but only in the very early portions of their vast history. This was not a regular practice as some would have the general public believe. Ancient Egyptians of later dynasties found meaningful, yet economically viable, means to assist their Pharaoh’s journey to the Afterlife with the creation of Shabti figurines. These figurines replaced the need for human sacrifice while needs of the living were taken care of and the religious needs of the dead were still satisfied.


1.) Van Djik, Jacobus. “ Retainer Sacrifice in Egypt and in Nubia”, The Strange World of Human Sacrifice, Studies in the History and Anthropology of Religion, Vol. 1 (Leuven, Peeters, 2007), 135–155.

2.) Muhlestein, Kerry and Gee, John. “An Egyptian Context for the Sacrifice of Abraham”, Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 20/2 (2011): 70–77.

3.) Watrin, Luc. “Human Sacrifices in Predynastic Egypt:An Archaeological Mirage”, Grepal, January (2008)

Human Sacrifice: Mayans

Wikimedia Commons Sculpture in the Great Ballcourt at Chichen Itza depicting sacrifice by decapitation. The figure at left holds the severed head of the figure at right, who spouts blood in the form of serpents from his neck.

The Mayans are mostly known for their contributions to astronomy, calendar-making, and mathematics, or for the impressive amount of architecture and artwork that they left behind. 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 most common methods were decapitation and heart removal, neither of which would occur until the victim had been thoroughly tortured.

Heart-removal ceremonies took place in the courtyard of temples or at the summit of one and were considered the highest honor. 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.

A sacrificial knife was then used to cut into the victim’s chest, at which point a priest would pull out the heart and then show it to the surrounding crowd. After passing the heart to a priest known as the Chilan, blood would be smeared onto the image of a god and the lifeless body would be thrown down the pyramid steps. The sacrificed person’s hands and feet were left alone but the rest of their skin was worn by the Chilan as he performed a ritual dance of rebirth.

Decapitations were equally ceremonial, with a high importance again placed on the swift flow of blood down the temple steps.

Other methods of human sacrifice included death by arrows or even being thrown into The Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza during times of famine, drought or disease. The Sacred Cenote is a naturally occurring sinkhole eroded into local limestone. Approximately 160 feet wide and 66 feet deep with another 66 feet of water at the bottom and sheer sides all around, it acted as a proverbial mouth in the Earth, waiting to swallow victims whole.


Why did “early, primitive” societies practice human sacrifice? The question should be, “Why did ‘sophisticated, advanced’ Christian European Renaissance-and-later societies practice human sacrifice?” Folks can spin it any way they’d like (and I’ve seen some amazing contortions over the years), but the work of the Inquisition, the killing of ”witches”, the autos-de-fe (as late as the Lisbon earthquake of 1755) were human sacrifice, i. e., the killing of human beings to satisfy some religious need, propitiate one’s gods, etc. Please don’t waste my time with more spinning, or I’ll get you in a corner over the cannibalism inherent in the Christian Eucharist.

My view on human sacrifice is more unorthodox. I believe inter-dimensional aliens have to a certain degree manipulated humanity for ages. Anyone familiar with alien abduction phenomena understands that malevolent aliens thrive on negative vibrations created by human suffering.

These demonic inter- dimensional aliens subtly and gradually manipulated human DNA and psyche to carry out a slow degeneration of past highly enlightened cultures that brought them to superstition and fear to carry out the ugly inhuman sacrifices. That feed the aliens to grow stronger throughout history.The need and motivation for cultural social sacrifice became unnecessary after the aliens finally were able to have humans become separated via false dogmatic religions and racial and gender prejudice. Increasing wars were perpetuated between them became the new human sacrifice on a tremendous scale to the point that today the highly empowered aliens are covertly almost in total control of inhuman human behaviour.

Human sacrifice shows up more in later dark age cultures versus early higher age cultures in Egypt, India, Mesopotamia, Greece, etc. When the interpretation of religion falls to a low state we see such abnormalities. Even the term Jihad, originally meant to do battle with one's lower self (to become more spiritual) has now been interpreted in a twisted fundamentalist style to help one group of people control another. It is just ignorance.

I think if you look at the human sacrifice cultures, most of them lie near the water and sailing plays a large role. This applies to all the Mediterranean cultures, many of which practiced human sacrifice, including the Phoenicians and Hebrews (same people), Egyptians, Greeks, etc (all essentially the same people). We see it today, too. The sea faring nations, such as the US and England, have much more brutal penal systems than the rest of the world. Both nations operate under admirality law, rather than the law of the land.

When George Orwell wrote about Oceania in 1984, he referred to these cruel sea faring cultures, in particular the England and now the US. But earlier Egypt, Phoenecia, etc.

Polytheism and Human Sacrifice in Early Israelite Religion

The following is an interview with Thom Stark, a scholar of ancient and modern religious texts. Stark is currently an M.A.R. student at Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City, Tenn. His first book, released in October, is called The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries To Hide It). In chapters 4 and 5, Mr. Stark systematically lays out evidence that polytheism and human sacrifice were practiced widely as a part of early Yahweh worship.

I have to start with a question that may sound rude. Most people would expect that someone writing about human sacrifice and polytheism in the Bible would be an atheist or agnostic. And yet you describe yourself as a very committed Christian. Help me put the pieces together.

Well, I hail from the Stone-Campbell tradition, an anti-creedal protestant movement that is committed to discovering what the Bible says, even if what the Bible says contradicts what orthodox Christianity has historically said. That commitment to the Bible over the creeds is what underwrote my biblical studies, and ironically is what made it possible for me to come to the realization that the Bible isn't inerrant, and that what "it says" often depends on which book in the Bible you're reading.

At this point, many Christians would abandon their faith, because their faith is in the creeds, and in an idea of an inerrant Bible. For me, on the other hand, taking the Bible seriously meant taking all of the conflicting voices within the Bible seriously, and I was able to see the value in that. What informs my faith is not so much what the Bible "says" as it is what the Bible displays, the processes that unfold in its pages, the struggle to find meaning that it represents. It's precisely in the humanity of the Bible that we can gain real insight into the divine. What's revelatory is not always the words themselves, but the spaces between them.

So, based on your studies, what is the story that the Bible tells?

That's just the thing. The Bible doesn't really tell one story. And by that I don't just mean that the Bible is a collection of different stories. I mean that the Bible consists of a spectrum of competing stories. The Bible is sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure book, except none of the alternative storylines ever gets resolved. They're all particular stories, about a people called Israel, their god Yahweh, and the relationship of Israel and Yahweh to the rest of the world. They all try to explain why Israel is suffering, why the world is broken, and how through the reversal of Israel's fortunes the world is going to be mended, but they posit different answers to those questions.

There are several different authors trying to make sense of the same basic material, but each of them arranges it in different ways, and none of them do it just right. The royal historians declared that the Davidic dynasty would last forever, but it didn't. The prophets predicted the restoration of Israel's national sovereignty, but Israel wasn't restored. Jesus predicted the end of the world as we know it, but the world as we know it didn't end.

If the Bible does tell a single story, it's a story that transcends each of the stories its many authors intended to tell. It tells the story of a nation trying to contend for its survival in a hostile world and trying to explain the fact of suffering with reference to the only thing they thought could explain it: the will of Yahweh.

Who is the Yahweh of the Israelites?

Well as scholars like Frank Cross, Chris Rollston, Mark Smith and others have demonstrated and have known for some time, the earliest texts in the Hebrew Bible give a strong indication that the early conception of Yahweh was that he was an ancient Near Eastern tribal deity. As I argue in my book, following Rollston, the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 indicates that Yahweh was believed to have been one of the children of the Canaanite deity El Elyon (God Most High). The song describes how the nations were originally formed, and what it says is that the peoples of the earth were divided up according to the number of El Elyon's children (the junior members of the divine pantheon). Yahweh, Israel's patron deity, was one of Elyon's children.

The best evidence suggests that Yahweh did not begin as the "only true God" of later Jewish monotheism he did not begin as the creator of the world. Yahweh began as a young, up-and-coming tribal deity whose prowess among other gods mirrored Israel's aspirations vis-a-vis surrounding tribes and nations.

You're saying God evolves in the Old Testament?

Exactly. Surprise of surprises, as Israel aspired to greatness and sought to make a name for itself, surrounded by vast empires, Yahweh got bigger and bigger, until he became so grandiose in their theologies that it no longer made sense to refer to the other national deities as gods at all -- so vastly superior was Yahweh to the gods of other nations, according to Judean propaganda literature.

Tell us more about this evolution from tribal deity to monotheism.

Well as Chris Rollston argues, there are various stages in Israel's progression from polytheism to monotheism. Yahweh begins as a junior member of the divine pantheon. This is the view during the tribal confederation period of Israel's history. After Israel became a monarchy, Yahweh gets a promotion to head of the pantheon, taking his father Elyon's place. (This parallels similar ideas in Babylonian literature, in which Marduk's ascendancy to king of the gods mirrors the rise of the Babylonian empire.)

Over time, Yahweh and Elyon are conflated, they sort of merge into one god. At this stage Yahweh starts to be seen as creator-god. But in this period, Israel still believes in other gods it's just that they're not supposed to worship other gods because they owed their allegiance to Yahweh, their patron deity. Of course, Yahweh was believed to have had a wife, Asherah, and it is clear that Israelites worshiped her as Yahweh's consort.

This seems to have been acceptable orthodoxy until the seventh century BCE or so. At that point, prophets like Jeremiah began to polemicize other gods, calling into doubt their very existence. This idea that Yahweh alone is God is solidified during the Babylonian exile in the sixth century for a complex set of reasons. This is when official Israelite religion finally became monotheistic.

And early on, the chosen people practiced human sacrifice? Let's hear it. What's your evidence?

Well the evidence is complex, and I lay much of it out in my book. But the short version is that human sacrifice was a rare but widespread practice in ancient Near Eastern religion, and there is evidence that until about the seventh and sixth centuries BCE, it was an acceptable part of Israelite and Judean religion as well. There's the story of the near-sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham. It is popularly believed that because an angel prevented Abraham from killing his son at the last moment, the story constitutes a condemnation of child sacrifice. But that's not the case. Isaac is spared not because human sacrifice is seen to be immoral, but because Isaac was the child of promise and needed to survive. In reality, the account depends upon the logic of human sacrifice, because Abraham is praised for his willingness to kill his own son to appease Yahweh.

There is evidence that ancient Israelites believed that human sacrifices could be offered to Yahweh in exchange for victory in battle against their enemies. The Israelite warrior Jephthah sacrificed his virgin daughter to Yahweh in fulfillment of a vow he made in order to secure Yahweh's help in battle. The same ideology can be seen in some early accounts of the Canaanite conquest, in which Yahweh gives Israelites victory against Canaanite armies, and the Israelites in turn slaughter all of the women and children in payment to Yahweh for his aid.

There's also evidence that Yahweh commanded human sacrifice in the law of Moses. Later, when the practice of human sacrifice fell into disrepute among elite circles, the prophet Ezekiel confirms that Yahweh commanded human sacrifice, but interprets that command as a form of punishment for Israel's disobedience. Ezekiel needed a way to deal with that tradition found in Exodus 22, and did so by claiming that Yahweh ordered them to kill their firstborn sons as a way of getting back at them for their lack of faith in him. Obviously Ezekiel's solution to the problem was problematic in itself, but at least we can thank him for helping to put an end to the institution of child sacrifice in Israelite religion.

I've heard evangelicals explain that the reason God prescribed scorched earth policies in the Old Testament was because the surrounding nations were so evil -- that they practiced child sacrifice. (God sent warnings they didn't heed them.) Is this just a desperate attempt to justify the unconscionable?

Yeah, well that justification is in the Bible itself, in texts that were written or edited after the institution of child sacrifice fell into disrepute. But the reality is that Israelites practiced child sacrifice too. As I argue in chapter 6 of my book, the real motivations for the conquests were much more nefarious. It had more to do with land and the consolidation of political power than anything else.

Wouldn't most Christians and Jews find this shocking?

Of course, and rightly so. It is shocking. I was shocked. But what I find even more shocking is the fact that some believers go to such great lengths to try to defend these genocides and moral atrocities. The same people who preach against the evils of abortion in the name of absolute, objective morality throw their absolute, objective morality out the window in order to defend the child-murders of an ancient tribe who thought they were doing the will of God. That's what's most shocking to me.

I was raised that the Bible was the literally perfect, "inerrant" word of God. What you are saying sure calls into question this point of view.

I was raised to view the Bible in the same way, and it was my faith in the Bible that led me to study it. My confidence in its veracity is what led me to study it critically, assuming it would stand up to the test. Eventually I had to be honest about the facts and acknowledge that it couldn't stand up.

You've been accused of sleeping with the enemy, so to speak. Aren't you just giving ammunition to the enemies of faith?

The truth is the truth. I can't change what the truth is. If some groups want to use the truth as ammunition against other groups, that's their prerogative. I think that the truth should be used as ammunition against fundamentalist varieties of Christianity and Zionist Judaism, because such strands of the faith wreak so much havoc on the world. If they can use lead bullets to defend their ideologies, I think that justifies using truth-bullets to put as many holes as possible in their propaganda.

If believers can be blind to something as concrete as polytheism or human sacrifice in the Bible, what other cultural fragments may be there -- with God's name on them?

Well, there's no escaping culture, whether it's the ancient culture of Palestinian Judaism or modern cultures. All of our knowledge will always be shaped by cultural factors. Many Christians will be surprised to learn that much of Jesus' teaching is derived from a standard script that scholars call "Jewish apocalyptic" (I talk about this in chapter 8 of my book). Jesus' thinking was just as culturally conditioned as every other perspective in and outside the Bible. But that doesn't mean it's useless or irrelevant as a result. We need to appropriate his insights critically, but once we do, I think we'll find a wealth of resources in there that transcend the limits of Jewish apocalyptic.

Is this, as Sam Harris called it, "The End of Faith?"

One thing that the New Atheists and fundamentalist Christians share is this either/or logic. Either Christianity is true, or it isn't. And if it isn't, then it's useless. I don't buy into that simplistic paradigm.

When we're talking about an ultimate truth that may or may not lie beyond the metaphysical iron curtain, we're talking about a "truth" that is very different from the kind of truths that can be verified or falsified by scientific procedures. Talk about this ultimate truth, or "God-talk" as theologians call it, is always going to be conditioned by the limits of human knowledge on this side of the curtain. As Wittgenstein put it, the limits of language are coterminous with the limits of the world. But if there is anything meaningful about our existence, it lies beyond those limits, and speaking truthfully about what lies beyond the limits of language cannot by definition entail speaking about what we can demonstrate to be true empirically.

Truthful God-talk is poetry, not science -- evocative, not descriptive. "Faith" is what we have when we live our lives as if they were meaningful, and Christianity offers us one language that helps us do that. Like any language, of course, there are different dialects, accents and vocabularies. Just as with English speakers, some Christians get irony, metaphor and humor, and others don't. Moreover, just as languages evolve to adapt to new realities and new knowledge, religions do the same, and rightly so, whether practitioners acknowledge it or not.

How should Christians read the Bible in light of this kind of scholarship?

Between the lines. That's how they should read the Bible. Christians need to learn to appropriate our tradition's God-talk both critically and constructively. As I argue in chapter 1 of my book, the Bible is an argument with itself. It doesn't have one viewpoint, but in the Bible you'll find actual disputes between different personalities about the meaning of it all.

To be a Jew or Christian, to be a part of that tradition, is to participate in the argument. It's to join in. You can take up a position represented by Jesus, or by the Teacher in Ecclesiastes, which is sharply at odds with the two other major schools of thought in the Bible. (I've often said that if Ecclesiastes wasn't in the Bible, I wouldn't be able to call myself a Christian on most days.) Or you can come up with a new position. But to be a member of the faith community is to participate in the discussion.

I am a Christian because I believe that what our predecessors have said continues to be important to the discussion, even if what they said is sometimes dead wrong. Christians need to understand that it's OK to disagree with the Bible but, in doing so, it's not OK to pretend like we're not indebted to our predecessors, even when we disagree with them.

Fred Plumer at the Center for Progressive Christianity says, "Most of the creedal things we have been preaching and teaching in our churches have not had solid scholarly support for over 50 years (actually 100 years but [this knowledge] only got into the seminaries in the last 50). And we in the Church have not done the work required nor have we had the courage to share what so many of us have known." It sounds like you agree. Is this changing? Is it a generational thing?

Well, I hope it's changing. It may be a generational thing. But I'm a realist. As much as I would like to see the end of fundamentalism, I am dubious that we ever will. I suspect there will always be fundamentalists and revivals of fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is very attractive because it's easy. It provides pat answers, and it's much easier to navigate life with answers, even bad ones, than to try to wade through all of this ambiguity. For that reason, I am a bit pessimistic about our prospects.

Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to struggle against such simplistic ideologies and the dangers they represent. But we don't engage in the struggle because we're necessarily going to win. We do it because it's right.

Did the Minoans practise human sacrifice? - History

Graham James D. The Slave Trade, Depopulation and Human Sacrifice in Benin History. In: Cahiers d'études africaines, vol. 5, n°18, 1965. pp. 317-334.

JAMES GRAHAM Northwestern University Evanston The Slave Trade Depopulation and Human Sacrifice in Benin History The General Approach* Crucinxions human sacrifices and every horror the eye could get accustomed to to large extent but the smells no white internal economy could stand Blood was everywhere smeared over bronzes ivory and even the walls Such was the description of Benin City rendered by Bacon Commander of the British Punitive Expedition in 1897 This account together with Captain Alan left no doubt but that Benin City was truly no more than collection of half-ruined mud houses not better than the huts in an ordinary native village Many historians have accepted these first-hand observations as conclus ive evidence that Benin had indeed undergone gradual moral and cultural degeneration since the end of the seventeenth century The first explicit report of this alleged decline in the Benin Empire was that of David van Nyendael who observed that the houses of Benin City stand like poor corn widely distant from each other and that the city itself was desolate and depopulated due to civil war report of depopulation combined with Olfert earlier account of large-scale human sacrifices has been correlated to the expanding European slave trade with West Africa in most historical analyses of decline. recent shorthand statement of history best reflects the

The author would like to thank Dr Bradbury of London University and Professor Jeffrey Butler of Boston University for their criticisms Also acknowledgement should be given to Professors Jan Vansina and Philip Curtin of the university of Wisconsin and to Professors Robert Hess Ronald Cohen and Justine Cordwell of Northwestern University The style and interpreta tions in the text of course are solely attributable to the author


Sacrifice was a common theme in the Aztec culture. In the Aztec "Legend of the Five Suns", all the gods sacrificed themselves so that mankind could live. Some years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico, a body of the Franciscans confronted the remaining Aztec priesthood and demanded, under threat of death, that they desist from this traditional practice. The Aztec priests defended themselves as follows:

Life is because of the gods with their sacrifice, they gave us life. . They produce our sustenance . which nourishes life. [8]

What the Aztec priests were referring to was a central Mesoamerican belief: that a great, continuing sacrifice of the gods sustains the Universe. A strong sense of indebtedness was connected with this worldview. Indeed, nextlahualli (debt-payment) was a commonly used metaphor for human sacrifice, and, as Bernardino de Sahagún reported, it was said that the victim was someone who "gave his service".

Human sacrifice was in this sense the highest level of an entire panoply of offerings through which the Aztecs sought to repay their debt to the gods. Both Sahagún and Toribio de Benavente (also called "Motolinía") observed that the Aztecs gladly parted with everything. Even the "stage" for human sacrifice, the massive temple-pyramids, was an offering mound: crammed with the land's finest art, treasure and victims, then buried underneath for the deities.

Additionally, the sacrifice of animals was a common practice, for which the Aztecs bred dogs, eagles, jaguars and deer. The cult of Quetzalcoatl required the sacrifice of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Self-sacrifice was also quite common people would offer maguey thorns, tainted with their own blood and would offer blood from their tongues, ear lobes, or genitals. Blood held a central place in Mesoamerican cultures. The 16th-century Florentine Codex by Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún reports that in one of the creation myths, Quetzalcóatl offered blood extracted from a wound in his own genitals to give life to humanity. There are several other myths in which Nahua gods offer their blood to help humanity.

It is debated whether these rites functioned as a type of atonement for Aztec believers. Some scholars argue that the role of sacrifice was to assist the gods in maintaining the cosmos, and not as an act of propitiation. [9] Aztec society viewed even the slightest tlatlacolli ('sin' or 'insult') as an extremely malevolent supernatural force. To avoid such calamities befalling their community, those who had erred punished themselves by extreme measures such as slitting their tongues for vices of speech or their ears for vices of listening. Other methods of atoning wrongdoings included hanging themselves, or throwing themselves down precipices. [16]

What has been gleaned from all of this is that the sacrificial role entailed a great deal of social expectation and a certain degree of acquiescence. [10]

Flower wars Edit

According to Diego Durán's History of the Indies of New Spain (and a few other sources that are believed to be based on the Crónica X), the Flower Wars were an act of ritual between the cities of Aztec Triple Alliance and Tlaxcala, Huexotzingo and Cholula. [11] This form of ritual was introduced probably after mid-1450s following droughts and famine caused many deaths within the Mexican highlands. [11] The droughts and damage to the crops were believed to be punishment by the gods for feeling unappreciated instead of being honored properly. Therefore, the Flower Wars became a way to obtain human sacrifices in a very structured and ceremonial manner which were then used as offerings. [11]

This type of warfare differed from regular political warfare, as the Flower war was also used for combat training and as first exposure to war for new military members. [12] In addition, regular warfare included the use of long range weapons such as atlatl darts, stones, and sling shots to damage the enemy from afar. [12] During Flower wars, warriors were expected to fight up close and exhibit their combat abilities while aiming to injure the enemy, rather than kill them. [12] The main objective of Aztec Flower warfare was to capture victims alive for use later in ritual execution, and offerings to the gods. When death occurred from battling in a Flower War, it was considered much more noble than dying in a regular military battle. [12] Additionally, death in the Flower Wars contained religious importance as those who died were thought to live in heaven with the war god, Huitzilopochtli. [13]

Sacrifice ritual Edit

Human sacrifice rituals were performed at the appropriate times each month with the appropriate number of living bodies, and other goods. These individuals were previously chosen to be sacrificed, as was the case for people embodying the gods themselves, or members of an enemy party which had been captured and prepared to be sacrificed. [12] Even enemies of the Aztecs understood their roles as sacrifices to the gods since many also practiced the same type of religion. For many rites, the victims were expected to bless children, greet and cheer passers-by, hear people's petitions to the gods, visit people in their homes, give discourses and lead sacred songs, processions and dances. [14]

A great deal of cosmological thought seems to have underlain each of the Aztec sacrificial rites. Most of the sacrificial rituals took more than two people to perform. In the usual procedure of the ritual, the sacrifice would be taken to the top of the temple. The sacrifice would then be laid on a stone slab, a chacmool, by four priests, and his/her abdomen would be sliced open by a fifth priest with a ceremonial knife made of flint. The most common form of human sacrifice was heart-extraction. The Aztec believed that the heart (tona) was both the seat of the individual and a fragment of the Sun's heat (istli). The chacmool was a very important religious tool used during sacrifices. The cut was made in the abdomen and went through the diaphragm. The priest would grab the heart which would be placed in a bowl held by a statue of the honored god, and the body would then be thrown down the temple's stairs. The body would land on a terrace at the base of the pyramid called an apetlatl.

Before and during the killing, priests and audience, gathered in the plaza below, stabbed, pierced and bled themselves as auto-sacrifice. Hymns, whistles, spectacular costumed dances and percussive music marked different phases of the rite.

The body parts would then be disposed of, the viscera fed to the animals in the zoo, and the bleeding head was placed on display in the tzompantli or the skull rack. When the consumption of individuals was involved, the warrior who captured the enemy was given the meaty limbs while the most important flesh, the stomach and chest, were offerings to the gods. [15]

Other types of human sacrifice, which paid tribute to various deities, killed the victims differently. The victim could be shot with arrows, die in gladiatorial style fighting, be sacrificed as a result of the Mesoamerican ballgame, burned, flayed after being sacrificed, or drowned.

Those individuals who were unable to complete their ritual duties were disposed of in a much less honorary matter. This "insult to the gods" [16] needed to be atoned, therefore the sacrifice was slain while being chastised instead of revered. [17] The conquistadors Cortés and Alvarado found that some of the sacrificial victims they freed "indignantly rejected [the] offer of release and demanded to be sacrificed". [18]

Scope of human sacrifice in Aztec culture Edit

Some post-conquest sources report that at the re-consecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs sacrificed about 80,400 prisoners over the course of four days. This number is considered by Ross Hassig, author of Aztec Warfare, to be an exaggeration. Hassig states "between 10,000 and 80,400 persons" were sacrificed in the ceremony. [12] The higher estimate would average 15 sacrifices per minute during the four-day consecration. Four tables were arranged at the top so that the victims could be jettisoned down the sides of the temple. [19] Additionally, many historians argue that these numbers were inaccurate as most written account of Aztec sacrifices were made by Spanish sources to justify Spain's conquest. [20] Nonetheless, according to Codex Telleriano-Remensis, old Aztecs who talked with the missionaries told about a much lower figure for the reconsecration of the temple, approximately 4,000 victims in total.

Michael Harner, in his 1977 article The Enigma of Aztec Sacrifice, cited an estimate by Borah of the number of persons sacrificed in central Mexico in the 15th century as high as 250,000 per year which may have been one percent of the population. [21] Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl, a Mexica descendant and the author of Codex Ixtlilxochitl, estimated that one in five children of the Mexica subjects was killed annually. Victor Davis Hanson argues that a claim by Don Carlos Zumárraga of 20,000 per annum is "more plausible". [22] Other scholars believe that, since the Aztecs often tried to intimidate their enemies, it is more likely that they could have inflated the number as a propaganda tool. [23] The same can be said for Bernal Díaz's inflated calculations when, in a state of visual shock, he grossly miscalculated the number of skulls at one of the seven Tenochtitlan tzompantlis. The counter argument is that both the Aztecs and Diaz were very precise in the recording of the many other details of Aztec life, and inflation or propaganda would be unlikely. According to the Florentine Codex, fifty years before the conquest the Aztecs burnt the skulls of the former tzompantli. Archeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma has unearthed and studied some tzompantlis. [24] In 2003, archaeologist Elizabeth Graham noted that the largest number of skulls yet found at a single tzompantli was only about a dozen. [9] In 2015, Raùl Barrera Rodríguez, archeologist and director of the Urban Archaeology Program at National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), discovered a skull rack and skull towers next to the Templo Mayor complex that could have held thousands of skulls. [25]

Every Aztec warrior would have to provide at least one prisoner for sacrifice. All the male population was trained to be warriors, but only the few who succeeded in providing captives could become full-time members of the warrior elite. Accounts also state that several young warriors could unite to capture a single prisoner, which suggests that capturing prisoners for sacrifice was challenging. [3]

There is still much debate as to what social groups constituted the usual victims of these sacrifices. It is often assumed that all victims were 'disposable' commoners or foreigners. However, slaves – a major source of victims – were not a permanent class but rather persons from any level of Aztec society who had fallen into debt or committed some crime. [16] Likewise, most of the earliest accounts talk of prisoners of war of diverse social status, and concur that virtually all child sacrifices were locals of noble lineage, offered by their own parents. [26] [27] [16] That women and children were not excluded from potential victims is attested by a tzompantli found in 2015 at Templo Mayor in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. [28]

It is doubtful if many victims came from far afield. In 1454, the Aztec government forbade the slaying of captives from distant lands at the capital's temples. Duran's informants told him that sacrifices were consequently 'nearly always . friends of the [Royal] House' – meaning warriors from allied states. [15]

Huitzilopochtli Edit

Huitzilopochtli was the tribal deity of the Mexica and, as such, he represented the character of the Mexican people and was often identified with the sun at the zenith, and with warfare, who burned down towns and carried a fire-breathing serpent, Xiuhcoatl. He was considered the primary god of the south and a manifestation of the sun, and a counterpart of the black Tezcatlipoca, the primary god of the north, "a domain associated with Mictlan, the underworld of the dead". [7]

Huitzilopochtli was worshipped at the Templo Mayor, which was the primary religious structure of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. The Templo Mayor consisted of twin pyramids, one for Huitzilopochtli and one for the rain god Tlaloc (discussed below). [29]

When the Aztecs sacrificed people to Huitzilopochtli (the god with warlike aspects) the victim would be placed on a sacrificial stone. [30] The priest would then cut through the abdomen with an obsidian or flint blade. [31] The heart would be torn out still beating and held towards the sky in honor to the Sun-God. The body would then be pushed down the pyramid where the Coyolxauhqui stone could be found. The Coyolxauhqui Stone recreates the story of Coyolxauhqui, Huitzilopochtli's sister who was dismembered at the base of a mountain, just as the sacrificial victims were. [32] The body would be carried away and either cremated or given to the warrior responsible for the capture of the victim. He would either cut the body in pieces and send them to important people as an offering, or use the pieces for ritual cannibalism. The warrior would thus ascend one step in the hierarchy of the Aztec social classes, a system that rewarded successful warriors. [33]

During the festival of Panquetzaliztli, of which Huitzilopochtli was the patron, sacrificial victims were adorned in the manner of Huitzilopochtli's costume and blue body paint, before their hearts would be sacrificially removed. Representations of Huitzilopochtli called teixiptla were also worshipped, the most significant being the one at the Templo Mayor which was made of dough mixed with sacrificial blood. [34]

Tezcatlipoca Edit

Tezcatlipoca was generally considered the most powerful god, the god of night, sorcery and destiny (the name tezcatlipoca means "smoking mirror", or "obsidian"), and the god of the north. [35] The Aztecs believed that Tezcatlipoca created war to provide food and drink to the gods. Tezcatlipoca was known by several epithets including "the Enemy" and "the Enemy of Both Sides", which stress his affinity for discord. He was also deemed the enemy of Quetzalcoatl, but an ally of Huitzilopochtli. [35] Tezcatlipoca had the power to forgive sins and to relieve disease, or to release a man from the fate assigned to him by his date of birth however, nothing in Tezcatlipoca's nature compelled him to do so. He was capricious and often brought about reversals of fortune, such as bringing drought and famine. He turned himself into Mixcoatl, the god of the hunt, to make fire. To the Aztecs, he was an all-knowing, all-seeing nearly all-powerful god. One of his names can be translated as "He Whose Slaves We Are". [35]

Some captives were sacrificed to Tezcatlipoca in ritual gladiatorial combat. The victim was tethered in place and given a mock weapon. He died fighting against up to four fully armed jaguar knights and eagle warriors.

During the 20-day month of Toxcatl, a young impersonator of Tezcatlipoca would be sacrificed. Throughout a year, this youth would be dressed as Tezcatlipoca and treated as a living incarnation of the god. The youth would represent Tezcatlipoca on earth he would get four beautiful women as his companions until he was killed. In the meantime he walked through the streets of Tenochtitlan playing a flute. On the day of the sacrifice, a feast would be held in Tezcatlipoca's honor. The young man would climb the pyramid, break his flute and surrender his body to the priests. Sahagún compared it to the Christian Easter. [36]

Huehueteotl/Xiuhtecuhtli Edit

Xiuhtecuhtli is the god of fire and heat and in many cases is considered to be an aspect of Huehueteotl, the "Old God" and another fire deity.

Both Xiuhtecuhtli and Huehueteotl were worshipped during the festival of Izcalli. For ten days preceding the festival various animals would be captured by the Aztecs, to be thrown in the hearth on the night of celebration. [37]

To appease Huehueteotl, the fire god and a senior deity, the Aztecs had a ceremony where they prepared a large feast, at the end of which they would burn captives before they died they would be taken from the fire and their hearts would be cut out. Motolinía and Sahagún reported that the Aztecs believed that if they did not placate Huehueteotl, a plague of fire would strike their city. The sacrifice was considered an offering to the deity. [38]

Xiuhtecuhtli was also worshipped during the New Fire Ceremony, which occurred every 52 years, and prevented the ending of the world. During the festival priests would march to the top of the volcano Huixachtlan and when the constellation "the fire drill" (Orion's belt) rose over the mountain, a man would be sacrificed. The victim's heart would be ripped from his body and a ceremonial hearth would be lit in the hole in his chest. This flame would then be used to light all of the ceremonial fires in various temples throughout the city of Tenochtitlan. [39] [ better source needed ] [ citation needed ]

Tlaloc Edit

Tlaloc is the god of rain, water, and earthly fertility. [40] The Aztecs believed that if sacrifices were not supplied for Tlaloc, rain would not come, their crops would not flourish, and leprosy and rheumatism, diseases caused by Tlaloc, would infest the village. [41]

Archaeologists have found the remains of at least 42 children sacrificed to Tlaloc at the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. Many of the children suffered from serious injuries before their death, they would have to have been in significant pain as Tlaloc required the tears of the young as part of the sacrifice. The priests made the children cry during their way to immolation: a good omen that Tlaloc would wet the earth in the raining season. [42]

In the Florentine Codex, also known as General History of the Things of New Spain, Sahagún wrote:

According to the accounts of some, they assembled the children whom they slew in the first month, buying them from their mothers. And they went on killing them in all the feasts which followed, until the rains really began. And thus they slew some on the first month, named Quauitleua and some in the second, named Tlacaxipeualiztli and some in the third, named Tocoztontli and others in the fourth, named Ueitocoztli so that until the rains began in abundance, in all the feasts they sacrificed children. [43]

Xipe Totec Edit

Xipe Totec, known as "Our Lord the Flayed One", is the god of rebirth, agriculture, the seasons, and craftsmen. [44]

Xipe Totec was worshipped extensively during the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli, in which captured warriors and slaves were sacrificed in the ceremonial center of the city of Tenochtitlan. For forty days prior to their sacrifice one victim would be chosen from each ward of the city to act as ixiptla, dress and live as Xipe Totec. The victims were then taken to the Xipe Totec's temple where their hearts would be removed, their bodies dismembered, and their body parts divided up to be later eaten. Prior to death and dismemberment the victim's skin would be removed and worn by individuals who traveled throughout the city fighting battles and collecting gifts from the citizens. [45]

The 52-year cycle Edit

The cycle of fifty-two years was central to Mesoamerican cultures. The Nahua's religious beliefs were based on a great fear that the universe would collapse after each cycle if the gods were not strong enough. Every fifty-two years a special New Fire ceremony was performed. [46] All fires were extinguished and at midnight a human sacrifice was made. The Aztecs then waited for the dawn. If the Sun appeared it meant that the sacrifices for this cycle had been enough. A fire was ignited on the body of a victim, and this new fire was taken to every house, city and town. Rejoicing was general: a new cycle of fifty-two years was beginning, and the end of the world had been postponed, at least for another 52-year cycle.

Sacrifices were made on specific days. Sahagún, Juan Bautista de Pomar and Motolinía report that the Aztecs had eighteen festivities each year, one for each Aztec month. The table below shows the festivals of the 18-month year of the Aztec calendar and the deities with which the festivals were associated. [47] [48] [49] [50] [29]

No. Name of the Mexican month and its Gregorian equivalent Deities and human sacrifices
I Atlacacauallo (from February 2 to February 21) Tláloc, Chalchitlicue, Ehécatl Sacrifice of children and captives to the water deities
II Tlacaxipehualiztli (from February 22 to March 13) Xipe Tótec, Huitzilopochtli, Tequitzin-Mayáhuel Sacrifice of captives gladiatorial fighters dances of the priest wearing the skin of the flayed victims
III Tozoztontli (from March 14 to April 2) Coatlicue, Tlaloc, Chalchitlicue, Tona Type of sacrifice: extraction of the heart burying of the flayed human skins sacrifices of children
IV Hueytozoztli (from April 3 to April 22) Cintéotl, Chicomecacóatl, Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl Sacrifice of a maid of boy and girl
V Toxcatl (from April 23 to May 12) Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli, Tlacahuepan, Cuexcotzin Sacrifice of captives by extraction of the heart
VI Etzalcualiztli (from May 13 to June 1) Tláloc, Quetzalcoatl Sacrifice by drowning and extraction of the heart
VII Tecuilhuitontli (from June 2 to June 21) Huixtocihuatl, Xochipilli Sacrifice by extraction of the heart
VIII Hueytecuihutli (from June 22 to July 11) Xilonen, Quilaztli-Cihacóatl, Ehécatl, Chicomelcóatl Sacrifice by decapitation of a woman and extraction of her heart
IX Tlaxochimaco (from July 12 to July 31) Huitzilopochtli, Tezcatlipoca, Mictlantecuhtli Sacrifice by starvation in a cave or temple
X Xocotlhuetzin (from August 1 to August 20) Xiuhtecuhtli, Ixcozauhqui, Otontecuhtli, Chiconquiáhitl, Cuahtlaxayauh, Coyolintáhuatl, Chalmecacíhuatl Sacrifices to the fire gods by burning the victims
XI Ochpaniztli (from August 21 to September 9) Toci, Teteoinan, Chimelcóatl-Chalchiuhcíhuatl, Atlatonin, Atlauhaco, Chiconquiáuitl, Cintéotl Sacrifice of a decapitated young woman to Toci she was skinned and a young man wore her skin sacrifice of captives by hurling from a height and extraction of the heart
XII Teoleco (from September 10 to September 29) Xochiquétzal Sacrifices by fire extraction of the heart
XIII Tepeihuitl (from September 30 to October 19) Tláloc-Napatecuhtli, Matlalcueye, Xochitécatl, Mayáhuel, Milnáhuatl, Napatecuhtli, Chicomecóatl, Xochiquétzal Sacrifices of children, two noble women, extraction of the heart and flaying ritual cannibalism
XIV Quecholli (from October 20 to November 8) Mixcóatl-Tlamatzincatl, Coatlicue, Izquitécatl, Yoztlamiyáhual, Huitznahuas Sacrifice by bludgeoning, decapitation and extraction of the heart
XV Panquetzaliztli (from November 9 to November 28) Huitzilopochtli Massive sacrifices of captives and slaves by extraction of the heart
XVI Atemoztli (from November 29 to December 18) Tlaloques Sacrifices of children and slaves by decapitation
XVII Tititl (from December 19 to January 7) Tona-Cozcamiauh, Ilamatecuhtli, Yacatecuhtli, Huitzilncuátec Sacrifice of a woman by extraction of the heart and decapitation afterwards
XVIII Izcalli (from January 8 to January 27) Ixozauhqui-Xiuhtecuhtli, Cihuatontli, Nancotlaceuhqui Sacrifices of victims representing Xiuhtecuhtli and their women (each four years), and captives hour: night New Fire
Nemontemi (from January 28 to February 1) Five ominous days at the end of the year, no ritual, general fasting

Visual accounts of Aztec sacrificial practice are principally found in codices and some Aztec statuary. Many visual renderings were created for Spanish patrons, and thus may reflect European preoccupations and prejudices. Produced during the 16th century, the most prominent codices include the Ríos, Tudela, Telleriano-Remensis, Magliabechiano, and Sahagún's Florentine. A contrast is offered in the few Aztec statues that depict sacrificial victims, which show an Aztec understanding of sacrifice. Rather than showing a preoccupation with debt repayment, they emphasize the mythological narratives that resulted in human sacrifices, and often underscore the political legitimacy of the Aztec state. [18] For instance, the Coyolxauhqui stone found at the foot of the Templo Mayor commemorates the mythic slaying of Huitzilopochli's sister for the matricide of Coatlicue it also, as Cecelia Kline has pointed out, "served to warn potential enemies of their certain fate should they try to obstruct the state's military ambitions". [51]

In addition to the accounts provided by Sahagún and Durán, there are other important texts to be considered. Juan de Grijalva, Hernán Cortés, Juan Díaz, Bernal Díaz, Andrés de Tapia, Francisco de Aguilar, Ruy González and the Anonymous Conqueror detailed their eyewitness accounts of human sacrifice in their writings about the Conquest of Mexico. However, as the conquerors often used such accounts to portray the Aztecs in a negative light, and thus justifying their colonization, the accuracy of these sources have been called into question. [52] Martyr d'Anghiera, Lopez de Gomara, Oviedo y Valdes and Illescas, while not in Mesoamerica, wrote their accounts based on interviews with the participants. Bartolomé de Las Casas and Sahagún arrived later to New Spain but had access to direct testimony, especially of the indigenous people.

Juan de Grijalva and Juan Díaz Edit

Juan de Grijalva was one of the first Spaniards to explore Mexico and traveled on his expedition in 1518 with Juan Díaz. Diaz wrote Itinerario de Grijalva before 1520, in which he describes the aftermath of a sacrifice on an island off the coast of Veracruz. He said,

When he reached said tower the Captain asked him why such deeds were committed there and the Indian answered that it was done as a kind of sacrifice and gave to understand that the victims were beheaded on the wide stone that the blood was poured into the vase and that the heart was taken out of the breast and burnt and offered to the said idol. The fleshy parts of the arms and legs were cut off and eaten. This was done to the enemies with whom they were at war. [53]

Bernal Díaz Edit

Bernal Díaz corroborates Juan Díaz's history:

On these altars were idols with evil looking bodies, and that every night five Indians had been sacrificed before them their chests had been cut open, and their arms and thighs had been cut off. The walls were covered with blood. We stood greatly amazed and gave the island the name isleta de Sacrificios [Islet of Sacrifices]. [54]

In The Conquest of New Spain Díaz recounted that, after landing on the coast, they came across a temple dedicated to Tezcatlipoca. "That day they had sacrificed two boys, cutting open their chests and offering their blood and hearts to that accursed idol". Díaz narrates several more sacrificial descriptions on the later Cortés expedition. Arriving at Cholula, they find "cages of stout wooden bars . full of men and boys who were being fattened for the sacrifice at which their flesh would be eaten". [55] When the conquistadors reached Tenochtitlan, Díaz described the sacrifices at the Great Pyramid:

They strike open the wretched Indian's chest with flint knives and hastily tear out the palpitating heart which, with the blood, they present to the idols . They cut off the arms, thighs and head, eating the arms and thighs at ceremonial banquets. The head they hang up on a beam, and the body is . given to the beasts of prey. [56]

According to Bernal Díaz, the chiefs of the surrounding towns, for example Cempoala, would complain on numerous occasions to Cortés about the perennial need to supply the Aztecs with victims for human sacrifice. It is clear from his description of their fear and resentment toward the Mexicas that, in their opinion, it was no honor to surrender their kinsmen to be sacrificed by them. [57]

At the town of Cingapacigna Cortez told the chiefs that for them to become friends and brothers of the Spaniards they must end the practice of making sacrifices. According to Bernal Diaz:

Every day we saw sacrificed before us three, four or five Indians whose hearts were offered to the idols and their blood plastered on the walls, and their feet, arms and legs of the victims were cut off and eaten, just as in our country we eat beef bought from the butchers. I even believe that they sell it by retain in the tianguez as they call their markets. [58]

On meeting a group of inhabitants from Cempoala who gave Cortes and his men food and invited them to their village:

Cortes thanked them and made much of them, and we continued our march and slept in another small town, where also many sacrifices had been made, but as many readers will be tired of hearing of the great number of Indian men and women whom we found sacrificed in all the towns and roads we passed, I shall go on with my story without saying any more about them. [59]

Hernán Cortés and the Anonymous Conquistador Edit

Cortés was the Spanish conquistador whose expedition to Mexico in 1519 led to the fall of the Aztecs, and led to the conquering of vast sections of Mexico on behalf of the Crown of Castile.

Cortés wrote of Aztec sacrifice on numerous occasions, one of which in his Letters, he states:

They have a most horrid and abominable custom which truly ought to be punished and which until now we have seen in no other part, and this is that, whenever they wish to ask something of the idols, in order that their plea may find more acceptance, they take many girls and boys and even adults, and in the presence of these idols they open their chests while they are still alive and take out their hearts and entrails and burn them before the idols, offering the smoke as sacrifice. Some of us have seen this, and they say it is the most terrible and frightful thing they have ever witnessed. [60]

The Anonymous Conquistador was an unknown travel companion of Cortés who wrote Narrative of Some Things of New Spain and of the Great City of Temestitan which details Aztec sacrifices. [61] The Anonymous Conquistador wrote,

They lead him to the temple, where they dance and carry on joyously, and the man about to be sacrificed dances and carries on like the rest. At length the man who offers the sacrifice strips him naked, and leads him at once to the stairway of the tower where is the stone idol. Here they stretch him on his back, tying the hands to the sides and fastening the legs . Soon comes the sacrificing priest—and this is no small office among them—armed with a stone knife, which cuts like steel, and is as big as one of our large knives. He plunges the knife into the breast, opens it, and tears out the heart hot and palpitating. And this as quickly as one might cross himself. At this point the chief priest of the temple takes it, and anoints the mouth of the principal idol with the blood then filling his hand with it he flings it towards the sun, or towards some star, if it be night. Then he anoints the mouths of all the other idols of wood and stone, and sprinkles blood on the cornice of the chapel of the principal idol. Afterwards they burn the heart, preserving the ashes as a great relic, and likewise they burn the body of the sacrifice, but these ashes are kept apart from those of the heart in a different vase. [62]

Modern excavations in Mexico City have found evidence of human sacrifice in the form of hundreds of skulls at the site of old temples. [63]

Other human remains found in the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan contribute to the evidence of human sacrifice through osteologic information. [64] Indentations in the rib cage of a set of remains reveal the act of accessing the heart through the abdominal cavity, which correctly follows images from the codices in the pictorial representation of sacrifice. [64]

Did the Ancient Greeks Engage in Human Sacrifice?

The ancient Greeks are associated with music, philosophy, logic and storytelling. So tales of human sacrifice in the works of ancient writers including Plato are often chalked up as myths. But the discovery of the remains of a male teenager at Mount Lykaion, the spot where some Greeks made animal sacrifices to Zeus, may lend credence to those tall tales.

Mizin Sidahmed at The Guardian reports that the 3,000-year-old remains were discovered in an ash altar on the mountain that is the earliest known site of worship for the god Zeus. The area of the altar has been under excavation since 2006, and finds indicate it was used by humans early as 5,000 years ago, even before the “birth” of Zeus in the Greek world. Archaeologists have discovered lots of animals bones, as well as pottery shards, metal objects and tripods in the area.

But until this summer, no hint of human remains were found at Lykaion. “Several ancient literary sources mention rumors that human sacrifice took place at the altar [of Zeus, located on the mountain’s southern peak] but up until a few weeks ago there has been no trace whatsoever of human bones discovered at the site,” David Gilman Romano, professor of Greek archaeology at the University of Arizona who has worked at the site tells Nicholas Paphitis at the AP. “Whether it’s a sacrifice or not, this is a sacrificial altar . so it’s not a place where you would bury an individual. It’s not a cemetery.”

One of the more prominent stories about human sacrifice on the mountain comes from the early Greek geographer Pausanias in his Description of Greece. He tells the tale of Lycaon, the first King of Arcadia, who according to one version of the story sacrificed one of his sons and served him to the god Zeus at a dinner party. Zeus was enraged, and he turned Lycaon and his other sons into wolves. Supposedly this led to an annual tradition at the altar of Lykaion in which a boy would be slaughtered along with animals. The meat would be cooked all together, and whoever ate the human flesh would be turned into a wolf for nine years. If they did not eat human flesh in that time, they were allowed to return to their original form. If they did, they would remain a wolf forever.

The remains on Lykaion were found deep in the ash pit, Sidahmed reports. They were laid in an east-west direction with two lines of stones along the sides and other stone slabs on the pelvis. Part of the upper skull was missing.

Jan Bremmer, professor emeritus of religious studies at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands tells Sidahmed he is skeptical that the remains are from a human sacrifice. He said the idea of Greeks conducting human sacrifice is intriguing because it contradicts widely held notions about the ancient society. “On the one hand there’s this picture of Greece as the cradle of civilization, the birthplace of democracy, of philosophy, of rational thinking,” he says. “But on the other hand we have these cruel cruel myths.”

The researchers have not speculated publicly on why, if the body is not a sacrifice, it was buried in the ash pit. Future excavations at the site will show whether the skeleton is an anomaly or if the area around the altar contains other human remains.

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.

Pharmaceutical Sacrifice: A Brief History of Drug Criminalization

The word "pharmaceutical" comes from an ancient Greek etymology &phi&alpha&rho&mu&alpha&kappa&epsilonί&alpha (pharmakeia), which probably meant "human sacrifice" in ancient times.[1] For thousands of years, communities addressed social deterioration, ignorance, and human suffering by singling out and excluding sapiens, animals, and things from their communities.[2] Human sacrifice is literally a "pharmaceutical." Pharmakeia generates community-healing and power by ritually "putting" collective fear and evil on a human, animal, or thing, and banishing or destroying the creature.[3]

Like other crimes, drug criminalization engages social values of cohesion, rationality, and physical wellbeing. However, the criminalization of drugs assumes a unique quality of blame. Beside technical analyses of Crown evidence, any theories about a police state, and the procedures of courts, a drug prosecution is a sacrosanct (or cultic) dispute.

Psychopharmacy Replaces Human Sacrifice

Historically, medieval and modern drug prosecution emerged when Pedro de Alvarado completed the [exhausting] slaughter of the high priests at the Temple of Tenochtitlan in Mexica during the Festival of Toxcatl, in 1520. This festival was a celebration of tens to hundreds of thousands of human sacrifices while the celebrants consumed copious amounts of drugs. Note that many Nahua people did not practise human sacrifice, but Emperor Moctezuma of the [Aztecs] had control of Tenochtitlan at that the time of European contact. The Spanish Inquisition supressed human sacrifice&mdashand simultaneously began the prosecution of various Indo-American psychoactive medicines.

In 1539, a Tenochtitlan cheif named Don Carlos made this hallucinatory remark [the word "hallucination" means a rumination, or eating a thought]: 'Our ancestors taught us to eat, drink, and commit adultery with our neighbours' wives because tomorrow we die.'[4] Bishop Zumarraga executed and burned Don Carlos for this "idolatrous" ranting. The Council of the Indes later publicly disgraced Bishop Zumarraga for burning the Tenochtitlan chief but the background to this execution was that Don Carlos began these ruminations when the Inquisition sentenced Martin Oceletl (a man whom Don Carlos deeply respected), to whippings, years in the silver mine, and banishment for the use of prohibited Indo-American drugs.

Martin Ocelotl was a Nahua medicine person educated in Catholicity (he was perhaps a Nahua sorcerer or a Tenchtitlan high priest). Ocelotl used hallucinogenic drugs to treat indigenous and Spanish people suffering from infections, snake bites, and broken bones.[5] Thus, the drug ban sparked the burning of the indigenous chief. The new authorities prohibited these drugs&mdasheven if a Spaniard testified that the drugs generated a miraculous healing through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. Ocelot's trial for healing with hallucinogenic drugs represents a tension between some people's need for obedience to categories of truth and some people's need for empathy.

On a sliding scales of jurisdictional legitimacy, Spanish authorities generated power by condemning Indo-American drugs and drug users. Bishops and religious groups held many unauthorized Inquisitorial trials. Slightly altered inquisition insignia and other sacred objects of the rite of inquisition adorned secret churches, where many drug trials occurred. The Ministry of the Holy Inquisition waged jurisdictional suits before the Pope but the Inquisition feared falsely accusing bishops of generating power through such backwater trials.

The prohibition of the Indo-American drugs probably had more to do with obedience to teaching authority than with the moral category of &ldquodebauchery" (cf. Ephesians 5:18). For example, in the 1560s, Fray Diego de Landa brutally executed scores of people in Yucatan, because they betrayed the trust of the local friars. After years of liberal education and training, the people ecstatically celebrated Quasimodo Sunday [i.e., on psychedelic mushrooms] and laughed at monkish orders to stop. Apparently, the Catholic Church could tolerate ecstatic visions of higher orders of reality, or lower realms of damnation.[6] However, the Church was extremely concerned about obedience to teaching authority. Again the mass-torture and slaughter at Yucatan highlights a disparity between teaching power and cultural humility.

The Spanish authorities may not have been entirely ignorant of the effects of the prohibited Indo-American drugs. Perhaps the anamnetic (

memory inducing) effects of some of the indigenous drugs played a factor in their prohibition. On July 12, 1562, Bishop Diego de Landa burned approximately 27 Maya codices and 5000 illustrations (these were like comic illustrations of Mayan history). A popular Church-commissioned Mayan-style image of Satan's influence over hallucinogenic mushrooms contains a secret message about keeping the memory of the blue-mushroom green.[7]

On June 29, 1620, Licenciado D. Pedro Nabarre de Isla anathematized Peyote. This anathema emphasizes Satan's power to delude people into superstitious beliefs in divination and the foretelling of future events. In this excommunication, Licenciado D. Pedro Nabarre de Isla is careful not to attribute too much power to the drug. Demonic knowledge of future machinations is deceptive. Such emphatic attribution of power still informs legal theories today. Figure 1 (at the end of this article) includes the text of this anathema.

Contemporary drug prosecutions still refer to the "deceptive" influence of drugs. For example, drug dealers are guilty because they profit off of "addictiveness."[8] Courts sometimes even decide that drug deceitfulness ravages a person so fully that he or she lacks the purity of will required for criminal sanction (i.e., for the cultic sacrifice).[9]

In response to the medieval doctrine of drug prohibition, the traditional use of Indo-American psychotropics went underground until

Peyote emerged as a symbol of indigeneity in the Church of North America in approximately 1885,

Arthur Heffter isolated mescaline in 1897, and

Maria Sabina revealed "little" magic mushrooms to R. Gordon Wasson in 1955.

The history of datura use (e.g., datura baths) remains obscure.

Moral support for 16th to 19th-century drug prosecutions did not derive from detrimental health effects of the prohibited drugs. Such an anachronistic view underestimates the moral assumptions of late medieval and modern drug criminalization. M oral evil did not cause a physical ailment (per the story of Jesus and the man born blind) and d rugs do not cause ailments because they are morally evil. On the contrary, the authorities used the symbolism of mind-wandering drugs to generate power through scapegoating (demonizing and excluding the sacrificial victim).

Developments in Criminalization

Associations between "bad drugs" and foreign systems of thought (e.g., human sacrifice) contributed to other factors in 20th-century drug prohibitions, such as racial discrimination, schemes to acquire indigenous land, and financial greed.

&bull In 1907 Canada&rsquos minister of labour, William Lyon Mackenzie King, vowed that "something good" would come from the public riots against Chinese labour in Vancouver. King immediately made a motion to criminalize opium. Race played a major factor in Canada's criminalization of opium users.

&bull Harry J. Anslinger's 1930s campaign to criminalize cannabis ran: 'Mexicans and African Americans take marihuana and rape white women.' In adopting cannabis criminalization, Canada's Parliament made no reference to the health effects of cannabis (despite the fact that ancient Chinese emperors to medieval Arab intellectuals, and enlightened French revolutionaries to modern English Queens used cannabis).

&bull Puritanical prohibition of alcohol provided the capital for modern organized crime.

&bull In the 1950s and 1960s, American pharmaceutical companies successfully lobbied to replace the consumer-protection drug regulations (especially around amphetamines and barbiturates) with militarized police campaigns and the modern "war on drugs." Courts imposed long sentences of imprisonment on thousands of American physicians who opposed this industrial agenda.

&bull By the late 1960&rsquos, scientists had published more than 50,000 academic studies on psychedelic drugs. The dean of the Vancouver's Roman Catholic Cathedral encouraged parishioners to take LSD-25 under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Hippies criticized the military-industrial system. Nevertheless, in the late 1960s, the United Nations Conventions on Drugs proscribed psychedelics because they are "like cannabis, cocaine, or opium" (i.e., they are like cannabis). The United States led these restrictions on problem-solving research.

&bull The United States imposed its drug policies around the world, especially through UN sanctions (e.g., in Israel). To implement the American-driven agenda, UN agencies promised benevolence and brutality toward indigenous Indonesians and their "flower medicine," and funded extensive use of known carcinogens that effectively kill non-drug crops, in South America.

&bull The 'Blacks use crack' campaign fostered massive and racially disproportionate prison populations in the United States.

&bull Psychotherapists used MDMA since the early 1970s to treat post-traumatic stress disorder by reducing fear responses to memories. In 1986, the United States prohibited MDMA, despite the recommendations of Drug Enforcement Agency judges.

&bull 'Just say no' curriculum did not contextualize the psychological or physiological risks of scheduled drugs because it omitted the verifiable benefits of illegal drugs.

&bull In the 21st century, hundreds of thousands of people died from opioid overdoses. Contaminated (unregulated) opioid supplies are still causing the vast majority of these deaths (together with the lack of drug tolerance associated with abstinence-only approaches).

&bull In 2012, the United Nations Commission on Drugs recommended international decriminalization, partly because drug prohibition is causing an intractable blood bath in Mexico and South America.

&bull Opium prohibition is fostering popular support for terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.

Drug criminalization and drug prosecution are rooted in teaching authority and the medieval suppression of human sacrifice in central America. Criminalization channels human anger about death, ignorance, and social deterioration. A drug prosecution does not require falsifiable evidence the offence caused human suffering, ignorance, or community deterioration. A colourable suggestion that there is a connection between a prohibited drug and an undesirable aspect of the human condition justifies the ban and the imprisonment. For example, a prosecutor might advise, "Everyone knows that drugs destroy a person's ability to experience pleasure."

For approximately half a century, Governments have invested an incredible amount of money in researching the physiological and psychological risk of prohibited drugs. However, researchers across Canada and the world are now completing Phases I to III medical studies in controlled settings to prove that various scheduled drugs (and their analogues) are effective at treating multiple forms of human suffering. Case studies (such as Holland) also suggest that introducing regulated supplies drugs can effectively limit both contaminated quantities and gateway demand.

Despite recent statements by political leaders, associations of physicians, and chiefs of police, Canada is more likely to introduce schemes of medical regulation (i.e., drug legalization) than simple decriminalization.

[1] Some scholars suggest that pharmakeia [human sacrifice] meant 'drug sorcery' or 'abortifacient pharmacy' by

[2] From approximately 12,000 BCE to 5,000 BCE in South America, communities esteemed and feared ordeal-shamans&mdashpeople who survived the ingestion of large amounts of excruciatingly painful poisons (the word, 'shaman,' comes from Siberia). Ordeal-shamans bore social isolation and lived on the fringes of society, but they also provided wisdom and assumed people's illnesses. The use of psychoactive drugs largely replaced ordeal poisoning in Central and South America around 5,000 BCE.

[3] Christian theology suggests that the falls of Temple of Jerusalem symbolize the sacrificial practice of animal scapegoating developing into ministries of verbal value-pronouncements.

[4] Note the reference to Isaiah 22:13, Ecclesiastes 8:15, 1 Corinthians 15:32, and Luke 12:19.

[5] The Spanish physicians lacked adequate medicines. Ocelotl's Spanish associations and immense wealth seem to have embarrassed his prosecutors.

[6] For example, the Church placed St. Hildegard of Bingen and her sisters under interdiction, not because they used herbs and had psychedelic visions, but because they questioned the legitimacy of certain authorities.

[7] Melissa June Frost suggests that the Catholic clergy were ignorant of the effects of the Indo-American psychoactive drugs, just as they were ignorant of the extensive deliriant use in Europe.

[8] The black drug market is essentially demand-driven&mdashnot supply-driven&mdashdespite past instances of temporary drug shortages.

[9] Physiological dependency and psychological habituation play little role in the legal definition addiction.

Watch the video: Η Μινωική Εξάπλωση με Γεωπολιτικές Προεκτάσεις σε Αποκαλυπτικά Ευρήματα (June 2022).


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