Relief depicting beheading on one of the panels of the South Ball Court at Tajin, Veracruz, Mexico

Decapitation discovery reveals gruesome practices of the ancient Incas

(Read the article on one page)

Featured image: Relief depicting beheading on one of the panels of the South Ball Court at Tajin, Veracruz, Mexico ( Wikimedia Commons )

By Robin Whitlock

Comments

I read that the Maya, whilst using blood-letting rituals amongst the aristocracy, did not generally indulge in human sacrifice. The theory was that tribal groups, defeated and displaced by Aztec expansion, brought ritual human sacrifice with them. The sculpture seems to support this.
As far as condescending attitudes to Meso America are concerned, it's possible to be violent and technically sophisticated simultaneously, as much of the human race is currently demonstrating.

Robin Whitlock's picture

Good to see a lively debate going on here. One thing I would point out though is that there are numerous hints in world mythology that indicate human sacrifice, particularly decapitation, was an accepted practice at some point in ancient history. For example, there is the legend attached to the Capitoline hill in Rome in which the hill got its name because a skull was discovered while the foundations were being laid for the Temple of Jupiter (from the Latin ‘caput’ meaning ‘head’). Anne Ross in Pagan Celtic Britain argues that there is ample evidence for head-taking in Celtic Britain and Europe (the ‘head shrines’ at Entremont and Roquepertuse in Southern France may also support this conclusion). The thinking goes, as far as I can remember, that the Celts believed the soul or spirit resided in the head, therefore the Celts often used to decorate their huts with the skulls of enemy chieftains or prisoners, either as trophies or perhaps as ‘guardians’ to ward off evil spirits. But of course that is open to debate and Ross’s arguments have themselves been challenged.

 

To think all all native Americans were living in harmony and peace until "the gringos" showed up is unrealistic and simply untrue.

There is ample evidence that human sacrifice, cannibalism, and other such barbaric rites, were widespread and endemic among the ancients of many (if not all) ethnicities. It is often considered part of "religion" but it really was nothing more than powerful instinctive drives left over from our animalistic origins. The so-called Judeo-Christian culture perhaps developed anciently as a revulsion of decent minded individuals against such tendencies. Moses wrote that the law of Noah allowed only the eating of animals, and that the blood of Man was not to be shed. The story of Abraham substituted the sacrifice of animals for humans, and circumcision for infanticide. The Israelites became scattered throughout the nations of the old world, bringing a concept of contempt for the bloodthirsty gods of antiquity with them. The Jews, who were left behind in the land of Abraham, spawned a new religion called Christianity, that substituted even the old animal sacrifices with a benign vegetable communion. That appealed to those scattered Israelites all over Europe and a healthy disdain for the old bestial instincts was thus propagated.

The Meso-American cultures were late to the party and perhaps the "Gringos" were a bit heavy handed in their reaction to their barbarisms, but there is no reason to doubt the general essence of our understanding of history, or the forensic evidence of archaeology in my view.

I have to agree with you. Yet the likes of "Apocalypto" remains to perpetuate the myth. The gringo's just won't accept that the Inca and Maya and even the Aztec had a thriving, flourishing,advanced societies long before and trouble arrived from across the pond. But then the gringo's don't ever like to admit they are invaders. If it's not 'bringing salvation', it 'bringing freedom and democracy' :::cough:::- both of which mean death thru violence. But the history books paint lipstick on pigs ad infinitum. When you own the publishing companies, you write history the way that suits you best.

Pages

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Human Origins

Map of sites and postulated migratory pathways associated with modern humans dispersing across Asia during the Late Pleistocene.
Most people are now familiar with the traditional "Out of Africa" model: modern humans evolved in Africa and then dispersed across Asia and reached Australia in a single wave about 60,000 years ago. However, technological advances in DNA analysis and other fossil identification techniques, as well as an emphasis on multidisciplinary research

Ancient Technology

Ancient Places

Illustration of the "Emmons mask", a Mississippian culture carved cedarwood human face shaped object once covered in copper and painted with galena and used as part of a headdress
The City of Moundsville is located along the Ohio River in Marshall County, West Virginia. From the time of European settlement in the 1770s, Moundsville was regarded by antiquarians as one of the most significant ancient sites in North America. For it was here that the Adena mound builders and their descendants constructed the largest ceremonial center in the Upper Ohio Valley

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article