Re: human sacrifice

Kristoffer Lindqvist (
20 Sep 1996 10:41:22 GMT

>Anyhow, what I was looking for was the reasoning that people used to
>justify human sacrifice as explained by a religious dogma. I was
>particularly interested in the Kali rites.

I recently read in Cultural Anthropology (Keesing) one quite fascinating note on the Aztec human
sacrifices. As a student of anthropology you have probably heard this before, but then again you might have
missed it. Anyway, according to some researcher (I can€t remember who) the underlying reason for the human
sacrifies in the Aztec culture was directly linked to the amount of available food. When agriculture didn€t
provide enough food the Aztec sacrificed a few individuals from the lower cast to the gods by ripping their
hearts out, in order to please the gods in hope for better crops.
After the sacrifice the ruling class actually made a soup based on peppers, tomatoes AND the limbs
of the sacrificed victims, while the rest of the body was given to animals. The researcher thus concluded
that this was a way for the upper class to get more food when crops were scarce. Interesting, huh ?
This seems to make sense given the fact that one of the major problems for indians in Latinamerica
has always been to get enough food, particularly protein, since hunting in tropical rain forests isn€t very
productive due to a number of factors (most animals live above the ground, many are active only at night,
the tropical forests aren€t very game rich etc.) and the typical cultivated crops don€t provide much
protein. But then again, what makes sense to us doesn€t necessarily make sense to Aztecs due their
completely different cultural context.


Kristoffer Lindqvist