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The practice of child sacrifice
Child sacrifice
Child sacrifice is the ritualistic killing of children in order to please, propitiate or force a god or supernatural beings in order to achieve a desired result...

 in Pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 cultures
, in particular Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

n and South American cultures, is well documented both in the archaeological records and in written sources. The exact ideologies behind child sacrifice in different pre-Columbian cultures are unknown but it is often thought to have been performed in order to placate certain gods
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

.

Olmec culture


Although there is no uncontroversial evidence of child sacrifice in the Olmec
Olmec
The Olmec were the first major Pre-Columbian civilization in Mexico. They lived in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in the modern-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco....

 civilization, full skeletons of newborn or unborn infants, as well as dismembered femur
Femur
The femur , or thigh bone, is the most proximal bone of the leg in tetrapod vertebrates capable of walking or jumping, such as most land mammals, birds, many reptiles such as lizards, and amphibians such as frogs. In vertebrates with four legs such as dogs and horses, the femur is found only in...

s and skulls, have been found at the El Manatí
El Manatí
El Manatí is an archaeological site located approximately 60 km south of Coatzacoalcos, in the municipality of Hidalgotitlán 27 kilometers southeast of Minatitlan in the Mexican state of Veracruz...

 sacrificial bog
Bog
A bog, quagmire or mire is a wetland that accumulates acidic peat, a deposit of dead plant material—often mosses or, in Arctic climates, lichens....

. These bones are associated with sacrificial offerings, particular wooden busts. It is not known yet how the infants met their deaths.

Some researchers have also associated infant sacrifice with Olmec ritual art showing limp "were-jaguar
Olmec were-jaguar
The were-jaguar was both an Olmec motif and a supernatural entity, perhaps a deity.The were-jaguar motif is characterized by almond-shaped eyes, a downturned open mouth, and a cleft head. It appears widely in the Olmec archaeological record, and in many cases, under the principle of pars pro toto,...

" babies, most famously in La Venta's Altar 5 (to the right) or Las Limas figure
Las Limas Monument 1
Las Limas Monument 1 is a greenstone figure of a youth holding a limp were-jaguar baby. Found in the Mexican state of Veracruz in the Olmec heartland, the statue is famous for its incised representations of Olmec supernaturals and is considered by some a "Rosetta stone" of Olmec religion...

. Definitive answers will need to await further findings.

Maya culture


In 2005 a mass grave of one- to two-year-old sacrificed children was found in the Maya
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 region of Comalcalco
Comalcalco
Comalcalco is both a modern-day city located in Comalcalco Municipality about 45 miles northwest of Villahermosa in the Mexican state of Tabasco and a Pre-Columbian Maya archaeological site. The literal English translation of "Comalcalco" is "In the house of the comals"...

. The sacrifices were apparently performed for consecration purposes when building temples at the Comalcalco acropolis
Acropolis
Acropolis means "high city" in Greek, literally city on the extremity and is usually translated into English as Citadel . For purposes of defense, early people naturally chose elevated ground to build a new settlement, frequently a hill with precipitous sides...

.

There are also skulls suggestive of child sacrifice dating to the Maya periods. Mayanist
Mayanist
A Mayanist is a scholar specialising in research and study of the Central American pre-Columbian Maya civilization. This discipline should not be confused with Mayanism, a collection of New Age beliefs about the ancient Maya....

s believe that, like the Aztecs, the Maya performed child sacrifice in specific circumstances. In the Classic period some Maya art
Maya art
Maya art, here taken to mean the visual arts, is the artistic style typical of the Maya civilization, that took shape in the course the Preclassic period , and grew greater during the Classic period Maya art, here taken to mean the visual arts, is the artistic style typical of the Maya...

 that depict the extraction of children's hearts during the ascension to the throne of the new kings, or at the beginnings of the Maya calendar
Maya calendar
The Maya calendar is a system of calendars and almanacs used in the Maya civilization of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and in many modern Maya communities in highland Guatemala. and in Chiapas....

 have been studied. In one of these cases, Stela 11 in Piedras Negras, Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, a sacrificed boy can be seen. Other scenes of sacrificed boys are visible on painted jars.

Teotihuacan culture


There is evidence of child sacrifice in Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan – also written Teotihuacán, with a Spanish orthographic accent on the last syllable – is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, just 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas...

o culture. As early as 1906, Leopoldo Batres uncovered burials of children at the four corners of the Pyramid of the Sun. Archaeologists have found newborn skeletons associated with altars, leading some to suspect "deliberate death by infant sacrifice".

Toltec culture


In 2007, archaeologists announced that they had analyzed the remains of 24 children, aged 5 to 15, found buried together with a figurine of Tlaloc
Tlaloc
Tlaloc was an important deity in Aztec religion, a god of rain, fertility, and water. He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water. In Aztec iconography he...

. The children, found near the ancient ruins of the Toltec
Toltec
The Toltec culture is an archaeological Mesoamerican culture that dominated a state centered in Tula, Hidalgo in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology...

 capital of Tula
Tula, Hidalgo
Tula, formally, Tula de Allende, is a town and one of the 84 municipalities of Hidalgo, in central-eastern Mexico. The municipality covers an area of 305.8 km² , and as of 2005, the municipality had a total population of 93,296, with 28,432 in the town...

, had been decapitated. The remains have been dated to AD 950 to 1150.

"To try and explain why there are 24 bodies grouped in the same place, well, the only way is to think that there was a human sacrifice", archaeologist Luis Gamboa said.

Aztec culture



Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

 religion is one of the most widely documented pre-Hispanic cultures. Diego Durán
Diego Durán
Diego Durán was a Dominican friar best known for his authorship of one of the earliest Western books on the history and culture of the Aztecs, The History of the Indies of New Spain, a book that was much criticized in his lifetime for helping the "heathen" maintain their culture.Also known as the...

 in the Book of the Gods and Rites wrote about the religious practices devoted to the water gods, Tlaloc
Tlaloc
Tlaloc was an important deity in Aztec religion, a god of rain, fertility, and water. He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water. In Aztec iconography he...

 and Chalchiuhtlicue
Chalchiuhtlicue
Chalchiuhtlicue was an Aztec goddess of love, beauty, youth, lakes, rivers, seas, streams, horizontal waters, storms, and baptism. Reputedly universally revered at the time of the Spanish conquest, she was an important deity figure in the Postclassic Aztec realm of central Mexico...

, and a very important part of their annual ritual included the sacrifice of infants and young children.
According to Bernardino de Sahagún
Bernardino de Sahagún
Bernardino de Sahagún was a Franciscan friar, missionary priest and pioneering ethnographer who participated in the Catholic evangelization of colonial New Spain . Born in Sahagún, Spain, in 1499, he journeyed to New Spain in 1529, and spent more than 50 years conducting interviews regarding Aztec...

, the Aztecs believed that, if sacrifices were not given to Tlaloc, the rain would not come and their crops would not grow. Archaeologists have found the remains of 42 children sacrificed to Tlaloc (and a few to Ehecátl Quetzalcóatl) in the offerings of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan
Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan
The ' was one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. Its architectural style belongs to the late Postclassic period of Mesoamerica...

. In every case, the 42 children, mostly males aged around six, were suffering from serious cavities, abscesses or bone infections that would have been painful enough to make them cry continually. Tlaloc required the tears of the young so their tears would wet the earth. As a result, if children did not cry, the priests would sometimes tear off the childrens nails before the ritual sacrifice.

Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl
Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl
Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxóchitl was a Novohispanic historian.-Life:A Castizo born between 1568 and 1580, Alva Cortés Ixtlilxóchitl was a direct descendant of Ixtlilxochitl I and Ixtlilxochitl II, who had been tlatoque of Texcoco...

, an Aztec descendant and the author of the Codex Ixtlilxochitl, claimed that one in five children of the Mexica subjects was killed annually. These high figures have not been confirmed by historians. Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 describes an event in his Letters:



In Xochimilco
Xochimilco
Xochimilco is one of the sixteen delegaciones or boroughs within Mexican Federal District. The borough is centered on the formerly independent city of Xochimilco, which was established on what was the southern shore of Lake Xochimilco in the pre-Hispanic period...

, the remains of a three-to-four-year-old boy were found. The skull was broken and the bones had an orange/yellowish cast, a vitreous texture, and porous and compacted tissue. Aztecs have been known to boil down remains of some sacrificed victims to remove the flesh and place the skull in the tzompantli
Tzompantli
A tzompantli or skull rack is a type of wooden rack or palisade documented in several Mesoamerican civilizations, which was used for the public display of human skulls, typically those of war captives or other sacrificial victims.-Etymology:...

. Archaeologists concluded that the skull was boiled and that it cracked due to the ebullition
Boiling
Boiling is the rapid vaporization of a liquid, which occurs when a liquid is heated to its boiling point, the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid is equal to the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding environmental pressure. While below the boiling point a liquid...

 of the brain mass. Photographs of the skull have been published in specialized journals.

The table below shows the festivals of the 18-month year of the Aztec calendar
Aztec calendar
The Aztec calendar is the calendar system that was used by the Aztecs as well as other Pre-Columbian peoples of central Mexico. It is one of the Mesoamerican calendars, sharing the basic structure of calendars from throughout ancient Mesoamerica....

 and the deities with which the festivals were associated. In History of the Things of New Spain
Florentine Codex
The Florentine Codex is the common name given to a 16th century ethnographic research project in Mesoamerica by Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún. Bernardino originally titled it: La Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva Espana...

Sahagún confesses he was aghast at the fact that, during the first month of the year, the child sacrifices were approved by their own parents, who also ate their children. Child sacrifices appear in red on the column at the far right:
Name of the Mexican month and its Gregorian equivalent Deities and human sacrifices
I Atlacacauallo (from February 2 to February 21) Tláloc
Tlaloc
Tlaloc was an important deity in Aztec religion, a god of rain, fertility, and water. He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water. In Aztec iconography he...

, Chalchitlicue, Ehécatl
Sacrifice of children and captives to the water deities
II Tlacaxipehualiztli (from February 22 to March 13) Xipe Tótec, Huitzilopochtli
Huitzilopochtli
In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli, also spelled Uitzilopochtli , was a god of war, a sun god, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Mexicas of Tenochtitlan.- Genealogy :...

, 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
Coatlicue
Coatlicue, also known as Teteoinan , "The Mother of Gods" , is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war...

, Tlaloc
Tlaloc
Tlaloc was an important deity in Aztec religion, a god of rain, fertility, and water. He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water. In Aztec iconography he...

, 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
Tlaloc
Tlaloc was an important deity in Aztec religion, a god of rain, fertility, and water. He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water. In Aztec iconography he...

, Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl is a Mesoamerican deity whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and has the meaning of "feathered serpent". The worship of a feathered serpent deity is first documented in Teotihuacan in the first century BCE or first century CE...

Sacrifice of a maid; of boy and girl
V Toxcatl (from April 23 to May 12) Tezcatlipoca
Tezcatlipoca
Tezcatlipoca was a central deity in Aztec religion. One of the four sons of Ometeotl, he is associated with a wide range of concepts, including the night sky, the night winds, hurricanes, the north, the earth, obsidian, enmity, discord, rulership, divination, temptation, jaguars, sorcery, beauty,...

, Huitzilopochtli
Huitzilopochtli
In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli, also spelled Uitzilopochtli , was a god of war, a sun god, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Mexicas of Tenochtitlan.- Genealogy :...

, Tlacahuepan, Cuexcotzin
Sacrifice of captives by extraction of the heart
VI Etzalcualiztli (from May 13 to June 1) Tláloc
Tlaloc
Tlaloc was an important deity in Aztec religion, a god of rain, fertility, and water. He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water. In Aztec iconography he...

, Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl is a Mesoamerican deity whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and has the meaning of "feathered serpent". The worship of a feathered serpent deity is first documented in Teotihuacan in the first century BCE or first century CE...

Sacrifice by drowning and extraction of the heart
VII Tecuilhuitontli (from June 2 to July 21) Huixtocihuatl, Xochipilli
Xochipilli
thumb|300px|right| Image of Xochipilli.Xochipilli was the god of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, and song in Aztec mythology. His name contains the Nahuatl words xochitl and pilli , and hence means "flower prince"...

Sacrifice by extraction of the heart
VIII Hueytecuihutli (from June 22 to July 11) Xilonen, Quilaztli-Cihacóatl, Ehécatl, Chicomelcóatl Sacrifice of a decapitated woman and extraction of her heart
IX Tlaxochimaco (from July 12 to July 31) Huitzilopochtli
Huitzilopochtli
In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli, also spelled Uitzilopochtli , was a god of war, a sun god, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Mexicas of Tenochtitlan.- Genealogy :...

, Tezcatlipoca
Tezcatlipoca
Tezcatlipoca was a central deity in Aztec religion. One of the four sons of Ometeotl, he is associated with a wide range of concepts, including the night sky, the night winds, hurricanes, the north, the earth, obsidian, enmity, discord, rulership, divination, temptation, jaguars, sorcery, beauty,...

, Mictlantecuhtli
Mictlantecuhtli
Mictlantecuhtli , in Aztec mythology, was a god of the dead and the king of Mictlan , the lowest and northernmost section of the underworld. He was one of the principal gods of the Aztecs and was the most prominent of several gods and goddesses of death and the underworld...

Sacrifice by starvation in a cave or temple
X Xocotlhuetzin (from August 1 to August 20) Xiuhtecuhtli
Xiuhtecuhtli
In Aztec mythology, Xiuhtecuhtli , was the god of fire, day and heat. He was the lord of volcanoes, the personification of life after death, warmth in cold , light in darkness and food during famine...

, Ixcozauhqui, Otontecuhtli, Chiconquiáhitl, Cuahtlaxayauh, Coyolintáhuatl, Chalmecacíhuatl
Sacrifices to the fire gods by burning the victims
XI Ochpaniztli (from August 21 to September 9) Toci
Toci
Toci is a deity figuring prominently in the religion and mythology of the pre-Columbian Aztec civilization of Mesoamerica...

, Teteoinan, Chimelcóatl-Chalchiuhcíhuatl, Atlatonin
Atlatonin
In Aztec mythology, Atlatonin or Atlatonan was a mother goddess and a goddess of the coast. She is associated with Tezcatlipoca, and in some myths is said to be one of his wives....

, 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
Tlaloc
Tlaloc was an important deity in Aztec religion, a god of rain, fertility, and water. He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water. In Aztec iconography he...

-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
Coatlicue
Coatlicue, also known as Teteoinan , "The Mother of Gods" , is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war...

, Izquitécatl, Yoztlamiyáhual, Huitznahuas
Sacrifice by bludgeoning, decapitation and extraction of the heart
XV Panquetzaliztli (from November 9 to November 28) Huitzilopochtli
Huitzilopochtli
In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli, also spelled Uitzilopochtli , was a god of war, a sun god, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Mexicas of Tenochtitlan.- Genealogy :...

Massive sacrifices of captives and slaves by extraction of the heart
XVI Atemoztli (from November 29 to December 18) Tlaloques
Tlaloc
Tlaloc was an important deity in Aztec religion, a god of rain, fertility, and water. He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water. In Aztec iconography he...

Sacrifices of children, and slaves by decapitation
XVII Tititl (from December 19 to January 7) Tona-Cozcamiauh, Ilamatecuhtli, Yacatecuhtli
Yacatecuhtli
In Aztec mythology, Yacatecuhtli or Yiacatecuhtli was the patron god of commerce and travelers, especially merchant travelers. His symbol is a bundle of staves....

, Huitzilncuátec
Sacrifice of a woman by extraction of the heart and decapitated afterwards
XVIII Izcalli (from January 8 to January 27) Ixozauhqui-Xiuhtecuhtli
Xiuhtecuhtli
In Aztec mythology, Xiuhtecuhtli , was the god of fire, day and heat. He was the lord of volcanoes, the personification of life after death, warmth in cold , light in darkness and food during famine...

, Cihuatontli, Nancotlaceuhqui
>- Nemontemi (from January 28 to February 1) Five ominous days at the end of the year, no ritual, general fasting

South America


Archaeologists have also uncovered physical evidence of child sacrifice at several other pre-Columbian cultures. For example, the Moche
Moche
'The Moche civilization flourished in northern Peru from about 100 AD to 800 AD, during the Regional Development Epoch. While this issue is the subject of some debate, many scholars contend that the Moche were not politically organized as a monolithic empire or state...

 of Northern Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 sacrificed teenagers en masse, as archaeologist Steve Bourget found when he uncovered the bones of 42 male adolescents in 1995.


Inca culture


Capacocha was the Inca practice of human sacrifice
Human sacrifice
Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as part of a religious ritual . Its typology closely parallels the various practices of ritual slaughter of animals and of religious sacrifice in general. Human sacrifice has been practised in various cultures throughout history...

, mainly using children.
The Incas performed child sacrifices during or after important events, such as the death of the Sapa Inca (emperor) or during a famine. 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 victims may be as young as 6 and as old as 15.

Months or even years before the sacrifice pilgrimage, the children were fattened up. Their diets were those of the elite, consisting of maize and animal proteins. They dressed the children in fine clothing and jewelry and escorted them to Cuzco
Cusco
Cusco , often spelled Cuzco , is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cuzco Province. In 2007, the city had a population of 358,935 which was triple the figure of 20 years ago...

 to meet the emperor where a feast was held in their honor. More than 100 precious ornaments were found to be buried with these children in the burial site.

The Incan high priests took the victims to high mountaintops for sacrifice. As the journey was extremely long and arduous, especially so for the younger victims, coca leaves were fed to them to aid them in their breathing so as to allow them to reach the burial site alive. Upon reaching the burial site, the children were given an intoxicating drink to minimize pain, fear, and resistance, then killed them either by strangulation, a blow to their head or by leaving them to lose consciousness in the extreme cold and die of exposure.

Early colonial Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 missionaries wrote about this practice but only recently have archaeologists such as Johan Reinhard
Johan Reinhard
Dr. Johan Reinhard is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at The Mountain Institute, West Virginia, a Visiting Professor at Catholic University, Salta, Argentina, and an Honorary Professor of Catholic University, Arequipa, Peru...

 begun to find the bodies of these victims on Andean mountaintops, naturally mummified due to the freezing temperatures and dry windy mountain air.

Inca Mummies


In 1995, the body of an almost entirely frozen young Inca girl, later named Mummy Juanita
Mummy Juanita
Momia Juanita , also known as the Inca Ice Maiden and Lady of Ampato, is the well-preserved frozen body of an Incan girl who was killed as an offering to the Inca gods sometime between 1450 and 1480, at approximately 11–15 years old...

, was discovered on Mount Ampato. Two more ice-preserved mummies, one girl and one boy, were discovered nearby a short while later. All showed signs of death by a blow to the head.

North America


Mound 72 at the Mississippian culture
Mississippian culture
The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 CE to 1500 CE, varying regionally....

 site of Cahokia
Cahokia
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is the area of an ancient indigenous city located in the American Bottom floodplain, between East Saint Louis and Collinsville in south-western Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri. The site included 120 human-built earthwork mounds...

 contained the remains of "scores of clearly sacrificed female retainers" as well as four headless and handless male skeletons. The roughly contemporaneous site of Dickson Mounds
Dickson Mounds
Dickson Mounds is a Native American settlement site and burial mound complex near Lewistown, Illinois, is located in Fulton County on a low bluff overlooking the Illinois River. It is a large burial complex containing at least two cemeteries, ten burial mounds, and a platform mound. Dickson Mounds...

, some 100 miles (150 km) to the north, also contained a mass grave with four headless male skeletons.

The Pawnee practiced an annual Morning Star ceremony, which included the sacrifice of a young girl. Though the ritual continued, the sacrifice was discontinued in the 19th Century.

The Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 are said to have occasionally sent a maiden to the Great Spirit.

See also

  • Cannibalism in pre-Columbian America
    Cannibalism in pre-Columbian America
    While there is universal agreement that some Mesoamerican people practiced human sacrifice, there is a lack of scholarly consensus as to whether cannibalism in pre-Columbian America was widespread...

  • Child murder
    Child murder
    The murder of children is considered an abhorrent crime in much of the world; they are perceived within their communities and the state at large as being vulnerable, and therefore especially susceptible to abduction and murder. The protection of children from abuse and possible death often involves...

  • Human sacrifice in Aztec culture
    Human sacrifice in Aztec culture
    Human sacrifice was a religious practice characteristic of pre-Columbian Aztec civilization, as well as of other mesoamerican civilizations such as the Maya and the Zapotec. The extent of the practice is debated by modern scholars...

  • Infanticide
    Infanticide
    Infanticide or infant homicide is the killing of a human infant. Neonaticide, a killing within 24 hours of a baby's birth, is most commonly done by the mother.In many past societies, certain forms of infanticide were considered permissible...

  • Psychohistorical views on infanticide
  • Ritualized child abuse
    Ritualized child abuse
    The term religious abuse may refer to*use of religious teachings in an abusive manner that causes psychological trauma*harassment or humiliation on the basis of the victim's religion, see religious discrimination...


External links