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25 Cultures That Practiced Human Sacrifice

Human sacrifices

Human sacrifices

From prehistory to the 21st century, human sacrifice has been practiced around the world by numerous cultures. Live Science takes a look at 25 cultures that practiced, or still practice, human sacrifice.
China sacrifice

China sacrifice

Human sacrifice was practiced in China for thousands of years. At a 4,000-year-old cemetery near modern-day Mogou village in northwestern China, archaeologists found hundreds of tombs, some of which held human sacrifices. One sacrificed victim was around 13 years old. Archaeologists have also found thousands of human sacrifices at Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1040 B.C.) sites in the modern-day city of Anyang.

The practice of human sacrifice seems to have stopped or become very rare by the time China was unified in 221 B.C. by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. The first emperor’s Terracotta army, made up of thousands of life-size clay warriors, allowed him to take an army with him to the afterlife without sacrificing real-life warriors.

City of Ur

City of Ur

The Great Death Pit at the ancient city of Ur, in modern-day Iraq, contains the remains of 68 women and six men, many of which appear to have been sacrificed. Dating back about 4,600 years, a variety of fantastic treasures, including a statuette known as the Ram in the Thicket, which is made of silver, shell, gold, lapis lazuli and carnelian, were found in the death pit. Archaeologists believe that the pit was used to bury Ur’s rulers

Mound 72

A 10-foot (3 meters) mound called Mound 72 by modern-day archaeologists holds the remains of 272 people, many of them sacrificed. It is located at Cahokia, a city located near modern-day St. Louis that flourished from A.D. 1050 to 1200.

The archaeology of the mound is complex, but it appears as if people were sacrificed gradually in a series of episodes. In one episode, 52 malnourished women ages 18 to 23, along with a woman in her 30s, were sacrificed at the same time. In another episode, it appears that 39 men and women were clubbed to death. The mound also holds the remains of two individuals who were buried with 20,000 shell beads. It’s possible that some or all of the sacrifices were dedicated to the two individuals.

Inca child mummies

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