10 Cultures That Practiced Human Sacrifice

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Killing one or more than one person as an offering in a ritual is known as a human sacrifice. Human sacrifice has been practised throughout history in most cultures. In the Mayan civilization people used to human sacrifice to their gods. It was common especially child sacrifices. In ancient India, human sacrifice was known as Narabali. Human sacrifices were also practised in cultures including Ancient Romans, Greeks, in ancient Tibet and in other ancient cultures. Thankfully this practice of killing is illegal now. In this list, we are mentioning 10 of the Cultures That Practiced Human Sacrifice as a ritual to please their Gods or their leader.

10 Cultures That Practiced Human Sacrifice

1. The Chinese Sacrifice:

In ancient China, human sacrifice was very common especially in during the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. Men and women used to be sacrificed to the river god Hebo by drowning. When a high-ranking male died his slaves or servants were killed, buried alive or were forced to commit suicide at his funeral. In the ancient Chinese state of Qin, funeral human sacrifices were very common. The tenth ruler of Qin  Duke Wu, in 678 BCE, had 66 people buried with him and the 14th ruler  Duke Mu had 177 people buried with him. Although Duke Xian abolished this ritual,  the Hongwu Emperor revived it in 1395.  Manchus also practised human sacrifices. There were various kinds of sacrifices across ancient China, In-pit sacrifices men were sacrificed, foundation sacrifices included children and babies and in internment sacrifices, young girls were buried.

2. The Incas:


The Incas mostly sacrificed children to their gods in order to prevent natural calamities. The Inca Empire was extensive, spanning at least 4,000 kilometres but it was plagued by numerous natural disasters. it was accepted as an honour in Incan civilization to be chosen as a sacrifice or to be related to that sacrificed person. Some were prisoners while some children were raised and some were chosen because they were healthier and stronger. They believed physically healthy children were the purest sacrifices and the sacrificed children would have a much better afterlife.

3. Ancient Israelites:


The ancient Israelites performed human sacrifices by burning children. They performed this ritual for an ancient Canaanite god named Moloch and sometimes to the foreign god Baal. Experts believe it was only practised by a part of Israelite possibly a cult. Though many scholars deny this some claims that there is evidence of the Israelites worshipped false gods and sacrificed children. They even sacrificed as offering to Judeo-Christian God Jehovah.

4. The Aztec Civilization:

The Aztec civilisation was known for sacrificing humans to keep the Sun alive. They sacrificed human as an offering to Huitzilopochtli as they believed it would restore the blood he lost. Prisoners were commonly sacrificed to prevent the end of the world. The Aztec also sacrificed children as an offering to their rain god Tlāloc who they believed, required the tears of children. Also known as Mexica, Aztec people had brutal ways of sacrificing from dismembering bodies to cutting their hearts out. It is estimated that in central Mexico, in the 15th century, as high as 250,000 people per year were sacrificed.

5. The Ancient Egyptians:

There is evidence that in Ancient Egypt human sacrifice was accepted. In the early dynastic period at Abydos, when a king or a high official would die their servants would be buried with them. So they can serve them in their afterlife. Many skeletons were found without any sign of trauma proving those people gave up their life to accompany their kings. Those people were buried alive with their tools possibly in a drug-induced state.

6. The Hawaiians:


In Ancient Hawaii human and animal blood sacrifices were offered at a temple luakini heiau. They often used people from the Kauwa community which is a community of outcast or slave class people. These people included war captives, law-breakers and defeated political opponents. Hawaiians sacrificed humans as an offering to Ku, who was the God of war and defence. People would be hung upside down and beaten mercilessly. Some times the flesh of the dead would be eaten by the priest and the chief of the tribe.

7. The Celts:

Celtic Druids engaged widely in human sacrifice including children. There are proves that the Celts were engaged in cannibalism. Celtics were violent and their ways of sacrificing were nothing less than brutal. According to Julius Caesar when a  Gauls of rank would die their slaves and dependents would be burnt along with the body of their masters at the funeral. They used to build wicker figures filled with living humans and burnt them. They also sacrificed to their gods and different gods required different kinds of sacrifices. Some were hanged, some were burned and some willingly killed themselves as offerings.

8. The Carthaginians:

The Carthaginians are considered among the most intelligent, wealthiest and most powerful ancient civilisations. But even they engaged themselves in the rituals of human sacrificing. The Carthaginians used to engage in infant sacrificial killings. They used to offer babies to their gods as a way to control their increasing population and also their wealth. It is approximated that from 800 B.C. until 146 B.C, 20,000 babies were sacrificed until the Romans conquered the Carthaginians.

9. The Etruscans:

The Etruscans lived in what we know as Tuscany now. It is believed that Etruscans also practised human sacrifices. Infants, children and adults all were included in their sacrifice rituals. Experts have found a stone altar, a sacred building, and a ritual deposit of symbols of secular power and burials. Etruscan mythic art also reflects human sacrifices and rituals.

10. The Mesopotamians:

The widely known Mesopotamians also participated in human sacrifices. They used to kill people by stabbing through the heart as part of the burial rituals of their royal and elite families. Palace attendants, warriors, and handmaidens at their master’s funeral with the purpose of accompanying their masters into the afterlife. The dead would be decorated and put in systematic order with their weapons and other tools.

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