Friday, June 18, 2010
Ancient Animal Sacrifices
Photograph from Imagechina/AP
Sacrificial remains of humans and animals, believed to be at least 2,700 years old, have been found in central China's Luoyang city (map), Chinese archaeologists say.
The bones are part of a recently discovered burial complex covering nearly a quarter acre (945 square meters) and containing 14 tombs, a water channel, and 59 pits from the Western Zhou dynasty. (Related: "Ancient Mass Sacrifice, Riches Discovered in China Tomb.")
During the Western Zhou period (1100 B.C. to 771 B.C.), the sacrifices of animals—and sometimes humans—to ancestors or deities were a routine part of Chinese culture. The sacrifices were often made to bless houses, said David Sena, a China historian at the University of Texas at Austin.
"In general, there's been a tendency to describe Western Zhou as a more humanistic period, when the practice of human sacrifices"—which were commonplace during the preceding Shang Dynasty—"were waning," Sena said.
"But I think the archaeological evidence shows quite clearly that human sacrifices persisted throughout the Zhou period as well."
Published June 15, 2010