New Study Links Ancient Human Sacrifice To Social Hierarchies

Posted: Apr 5 2016, 5:25am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 5 2016, 6:05am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


New Study Links Ritual Human Sacrifice To Social Hierarchies
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  • Ritual Human Sacrifice Has A Darker Link To Social Hierarchies

It may seem unbelievable but apparently some benefits accrued to ancient societies each time they engaged in human sacrifice.

Human sacrifice is almost as shocking and perverse as cannibalism. However, we can’t account for the fact that many ancient societies engaged in this brutal and savage practice.

Apparently the rituals that involved human sacrifice were religious in nature. It was morally reprehensible yet many of the civilizations of the past had such practices extant as viable institutions in their culture.

Scientists have studied this phenomenon and come up with valuable data that may explain why this madness existed such a long time ago. 

For one thing, it was a way of benefiting elites in a hierarchical society. The study was published in a journal titled Nature. Over 93 Austronesian cultures were examined.

It was found that social stratification continued rolling along in its tracks via this practice. Mathematics was employed in the quest to understand the implications of this barbaric institution.

Bayesian methods were used to form statistical models. Human sacrifice had marked effects on three types of societies: egalitarian, medium stratification and high stratification societies.  

There were signs of human sacrifice in 40 of the 93 cultures. It was practiced in 5 of the 20 egalitarian societies. Also 17 of the 46 medium stratification societies showed signs of human sacrifice.

Finally, 18 of the 27 high stratification societies were riddled with this institution of ignorance. Probability models were run on these findings. The transformations in these cultures and the pivotal role played by human sacrifice in them were also studied.

The results speak for themselves. Human sacrifice tends to maintain the stability of those cultures that are very stratified. It is also an insidious institution that can change a moderately stratified society into a highly stratified one.  

Another strange fact that came to light was that egalitarian societies that started the practice of human sacrifice did not encounter any stratification later on. It is thus a ruse of the rich who want to maintain their status and position in a highly stratified society.

In Austronesian societies, the religious and ruling elite tended to employ the slave population as the victims of the practice of human sacrifice.

It might seem paradoxical yet the practice of human sacrifice helped the egalitarian societies of yore develop into the stratified societies of today. It played a role in the evolution of society although it was an evil institution.

This fact may remain something which cannot be properly digested by many of the civilized people of today, yet it is the bitter truth.

This study has been published in the journal Nature.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




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