Ritual Sacrifice – Not Easy to Swallow

Llullaillaco Maiden - Capacoha Victim

Llullaillaco Maiden – Capacocha Victim

Research described in the New Scientist hints at the psychological stress of submitting to sacrifice. In an article from the 3rd of August, Andrew Wilson from the University of Bradford explains how the ‘Llullaillaco Maiden’ – as she is known – is revealing details of her diet in the two years running up to her death, thanks to anaylsis of her hair.

Just like many of the ceremonial Aztec ‘tributes’ (to borrow from ‘The Hunger Games’), Llullaillaco Maiden was given special treatment in the year up to her death. Her diet improved, and in the last few months, drank alcohol and took increasing doses of coca. Scanned images of the mummy reveal that she has a large wad of coca leaves in her cheek.

Many will claim that sacrificial victims go willingly to their deaths, knowing that they serve a higher purpose and in modern times, we know that there is no shortage of Jihadi warriors who carry out suicide bombings in their cause. This doesn’t mean that everyone would go peacefully to their deaths just because their society demands it of them. I am convinced that many – perhaps most – would be terrified. The animal hind-brain is a powerful engine designed to ensure survival and that imperative, fighting the social conditioning, would surely create enormous levels of stress in humans. This struggle is a central part of the story in my novel ‘New Fire’.

The image shown comes from the Wikipedia Commons Library and was originally posted to Flickr by José Fontanelli at http://flickr.com/photos/95827018@N05/8751635572. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.