Why Some Societies Practiced Ritual Human Sacrifice – The New York Times


Nice to see that neoliberal doctrines of global financial capitalism in the society of control keep alive at least one grand old tradition from our forebears: sacrificing lives to ensure social stratification.

[A] new study published Monday in Nature revisits the ancient practice [of human sacrifice] to look for fresh insights… scientists from the University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington, both in New Zealand, found that ritual sacrifice may have spurred the transition of small, egalitarian societies to large, stratified ones… They looked at whether and how these cultures used ritual sacrifice — 40 of them practiced it — and how it affected social organization. The cultures were then divided into groups: egalitarian, moderately stratified and highly stratified. They were defined by the presence or absence of social hierarchy, and the rate of social mobility. The scientists found, perhaps not surprisingly, that human sacrifice contributed to creating and preserving social hierarchies, and that it increased the chances that societies would have more fixed strata, which were inherited positions, and less mobility. It also generally helped prevent loss of social divisions once they existed.

Source: Why Some Societies Practiced Ritual Human Sacrifice – The New York Times

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