Human sacrifice helped the ancient '1 per cent' maintain status quo

angelburst29

The Living Force
I have always considered the term, "Human Sacrifice" to be extremely "barbaric", no matter - what form it took or how it was applied.

In this article, which refers to a study that was done, they take the position - that Human Sacrifice "helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors, to the large stratified societies we live in today".

Personally, I disagree with their statement, for I feel it has systematically degraded the Human Race, down through the generations.

I find it, also interesting, that this study surfaces "now" - while "beheadings" are more prominent in the news. Are we being instructed to except "Human Sacrifice" as the norm - due to a limited study?

Human sacrifice helped ancient societies entrench class divide, study suggests
Discovery points to the 'darker role' of religion in evolution of modern civilization
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/human-sacrifice-1.3527357

Why did so many ancient societies around the world make human sacrifices to appease the gods? A new study supports the theory that the practice may have played a key role in keeping the poor downtrodden and the elites in power.

And barbaric as it sounds, human sacrifice may have created one path for more advanced civilizations, according to the study.

"Unpalatable as it might be, our results suggest that ritual killing helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors, to the large stratified societies we live in today," concludes the study published this week in Nature.

Anthropologists and archeologists had previously suggested that ritual human sacrifice might help build and sustain social class systems. Researchers at the University of Auckland, the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and Victoria University, wanted to see if they could find evidence of that.

They looked at 93 Austronesian cultures, which share similar languages and were spread across the South Pacific from Madagascar to Easter Island to the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. About 40 of them practised some kind of ritual killing, including burning, drowning, strangulation, bludgeoning, burial, being cut to pieces, being crushed beneath a newly built canoe or being rolled off the roof of a house and decapitated.

The researchers looked at the class divide or "social stratification" in each culture and found:
■About 25 per cent were egalitarian, without inherited wealth and status.
■About 50 per cent were "moderately" stratified, where wealth and status were inherited, but there was some movement between classes.
■The remaining quarter were highly stratified. "They had strict class systems and no matter how talented you were or how hard you worked, you couldn't do a lot about your social status," said Joseph Watts, the lead author of the new study.

Strict class systems linked to human sacrifice Watts and his colleagues found that ritual human sacrifice was relatively uncommon among egalitarian societies, with only about a quarter of them engaging in it.

But the vast majority of highly stratified societies — about two-thirds — made human sacrifices to the gods.

Typically, the victims were those of low social status, such as slaves, and those conducting the sacrifice were people of high status, such as chiefs or priests. Sometimes victims were sacrificed as punishment for violating social or religious rules. Other times, sacrifices were made in an effort to prevent or end natural disasters.

"We know from accounts in these cultures that it was often those out of favour with the social elites who became the victims," said Watts, a PhD candidate in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland, in an interview with CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks.

The sacrifices may have been used both to justify the position of chiefs and to intimidate their inferiors, Watts said.

Class divisions aren't usually viewed in a positive light, especially by today's non-elites, the so-called "99 per cent."

But Watts said social stratification is "a pretty important first step in the emergence of complex societies."

"Are you saying that modern civilization is based on human sacrifice?" asked Bob McDonald, host of Quirks & Quarks.

"Well, I'm not saying it's the only way humans were able to build social stratification, but it may have played an important role there, yes," Watts said.

He noted, however, that human sacrifice is pretty rare in the modern world, suggesting that other ways to enforce class divides eventually replaced it.

The new paper also makes a note about religion and the role it plays in the development of human civilization. It's generally been seen as a positive force, by increasing co-operation, for example.

"Our findings suggest that religious rituals also played a darker role in the evolution of modern complex societies," the researchers wrote.
 

Laura

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angelburst29 said:
I have always considered the term, "Human Sacrifice" to be extremely "barbaric", no matter - what form it took or how it was applied.

In this article, which refers to a study that was done, they take the position - that Human Sacrifice "helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors, to the large stratified societies we live in today".

Personally, I disagree with their statement, for I feel it has systematically degraded the Human Race, down through the generations.

Well, actually, what they are saying does make sense. Clearly a large, stratified society where there is no possibility of change of status no matter how smart or talented you are is NOT a good thing. Were you, perhaps, thinking that a "large stratified society" was a good thing? Small, egalitarian groups are obviously the way humans became human and still the best social grouping; how else can you spot the psychopaths among the group?

There's another study that sott published a few years ago that suggests that addiction to the opiods in gluten is one thing that encouraged agriculture and the establishing of city states... civilization developed so that everyone could get their fix.

Human sacrifice has not "degraded the human race down through the ages." At the time it began, it was logical to the people of the time and made sense. I covered the topic in "Comets and Horns of Moses", though not exhaustively. I've included quite a bit of interesting data about it in the history database and there are more entries that have not yet been checked, cleaned up and approved. http://cof.quantumfuturegroup.org/

It's all too common to judge ancient peoples by current standards but it isn't helpful. For example, you might want to read Moses Finley's book on ancient slavery. To the ancients, slavery was equivalent to our modern technology: they would have been unable to build their civilizations without it. Their ideas and attitudes about it are a fascinating study in cognitive compartmentalization; even Plato approved. Rome was built and maintained by slaves. The great Cicero actually committed human sacrifice in his execution of the Catilinarian conspirators, justified by a "miracle of the Bona Dea". And interestingly, one of the last episodes of human sacrifice among the Romans was at the hand of Octavian in vengeance for the murder of Julius Caesar.

In any event, what the article is saying, that human sacrifice was used to terrify the masses and keep them in line, (if you aren't careful, this will happen to you, too!) is certainly partly true. But there was way more to it than that. This explanation, too, suffers from anachronistic retrojection.

Added: you might want to check out this book:
Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome
http://www.amazon.com/Spectacles-Death-Ancient-Approaching-World/dp/0415248426/ref=mt_paperback
for greater understanding.
 

Windmill knight

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Laura said:
angelburst29 said:
I have always considered the term, "Human Sacrifice" to be extremely "barbaric", no matter - what form it took or how it was applied.

In this article, which refers to a study that was done, they take the position - that Human Sacrifice "helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors, to the large stratified societies we live in today".

Personally, I disagree with their statement, for I feel it has systematically degraded the Human Race, down through the generations.

Well, actually, what they are saying does make sense. Clearly a large, stratified society where there is no possibility of change of status no matter how smart or talented you are is NOT a good thing. Were you, perhaps, thinking that a "large stratified society" was a good thing? Small, egalitarian groups are obviously the way humans became human and still the best social grouping; how else can you spot the psychopaths among the group?

It made sense to me too, and while I agreed with their thesis I too kept thinking that a more complex and stratified society was not necessarily a good thing. So, if evil practices result in more evil societies, I can understand that. Like many historians, these guys seem to think that as humanity progresses through time, it becomes more 'advanced'. Perhaps somehow, but that does not translate into justice, quality of life, happiness, equality, etc.

Reading this article also brought to mind the 'Hunger Games' movies, which depict a dystopian futuristic society, extremely stratified, and which basically practiced a form of human sacrifice via the games in order to keep the poor submissive.

Laura said:
There's another study that sott published a few years ago that suggests that addiction to the opiods in gluten is one thing that encouraged agriculture and the establishing of city states... civilization developed so that everyone could get their fix.

Lierre Keith has such an argument in the 'Vegetarian Myth' about agriculture and the birth of more complex societies, though I can't remember if she explicitly suggests that addiction to opiods was the motivator.

Laura said:
Human sacrifice has not "degraded the human race down through the ages." At the time it began, it was logical to the people of the time and made sense. I covered the topic in "Comets and Horns of Moses", though not exhaustively. I've included quite a bit of interesting data about it in the history database and there are more entries that have not yet been checked, cleaned up and approved. http://cof.quantumfuturegroup.org/

It's all too common to judge ancient peoples by current standards but it isn't helpful. For example, you might want to read Moses Finley's book on ancient slavery. To the ancients, slavery was equivalent to our modern technology: they would have been unable to build their civilizations without it. Their ideas and attitudes about it are a fascinating study in cognitive compartmentalization; even Plato approved. Rome was built and maintained by slaves. The great Cicero actually committed human sacrifice in his execution of the Catilinarian conspirators, justified by a "miracle of the Bona Dea". And interestingly, one of the last episodes of human sacrifice among the Romans was at the hand of Octavian in vengeance for the murder of Julius Caesar.

In any event, what the article is saying, that human sacrifice was used to terrify the masses and keep them in line, (if you aren't careful, this will happen to you, too!) is certainly partly true. But there was way more to it than that. This explanation, too, suffers from anachronistic retrojection.

Added: you might want to check out this book:
Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome
http://www.amazon.com/Spectacles-Death-Ancient-Approaching-World/dp/0415248426/ref=mt_paperback
for greater understanding.

Interesting, thanks. I hadn't thought about the parallels between slavery and technology.

Another thought is that nowadays we are not supposed to have almost any slavery on the planet, yet for all intents and purposes huge portions of the population are essentially slaves, even if they get paid. While they are formally 'free', their living and working conditions are such that they cannot really do otherwise.
 

Laura

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Windmill knight said:
Interesting, thanks. I hadn't thought about the parallels between slavery and technology.

Another thought is that nowadays we are not supposed to have almost any slavery on the planet, yet for all intents and purposes huge portions of the population are essentially slaves, even if they get paid. While they are formally 'free', their living and working conditions are such that they cannot really do otherwise.

Yes. I think there are more slaves now, on this planet, than ever in history even including slave societies and taking population ratios into account. Nearly everyone is now a slave only they don't fully realize it (most of them don't). It's a thorny issue.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Laura said:
angelburst29 said:
I have always considered the term, "Human Sacrifice" to be extremely "barbaric", no matter - what form it took or how it was applied.

In this article, which refers to a study that was done, they take the position - that Human Sacrifice "helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors, to the large stratified societies we live in today".

Personally, I disagree with their statement, for I feel it has systematically degraded the Human Race, down through the generations.

Well, actually, what they are saying does make sense. Clearly a large, stratified society where there is no possibility of change of status no matter how smart or talented you are is NOT a good thing. Were you, perhaps, thinking that a "large stratified society" was a good thing? Small, egalitarian groups are obviously the way humans became human and still the best social grouping; how else can you spot the psychopaths among the group?

No, my thoughts on the stratified society model or program, so to speak, is that it was engineered to place the elite at the top and everything else - below them. Those "loyal or served a useful purpose" were place at a higher standing or tier than the remainder of society, while compartmentalization was used as a tool to manage the bulk of society. In a way, it gives the appearance of "a business model"? As for egalitarian groups, I see it as a more natural setting, more in tune with personal growth and experience, where interaction is a shared commodity. The Native Indian Tribes come to mind. Even though many tribes lived by their own standards and rules for doing things, they still mingled and traded with other tribes. They did have their disagreements and wars which led to the development of Peace Consuls and Treaties.

Laura said:
There's another study that sott published a few years ago that suggests that addiction to the opiods in gluten is one thing that encouraged agriculture and the establishing of city states... civilization developed so that everyone could get their fix.

I find that statement interesting and was not aware of the opiods/gluten connection in the development of agriculture. It is definitely a subject worth further study and I wonder if hybrids are an extension of that process?

Laura said:
Human sacrifice has not "degraded the human race down through the ages." At the time it began, it was logical to the people of the time and made sense. I covered the topic in "Comets and Horns of Moses", though not exhaustively. I've included quite a bit of interesting data about it in the history database and there are more entries that have not yet been checked, cleaned up and approved. http://cof.quantumfuturegroup.org/

It's all too common to judge ancient peoples by current standards but it isn't helpful. For example, you might want to read Moses Finley's book on ancient slavery. To the ancients, slavery was equivalent to our modern technology: they would have been unable to build their civilizations without it. Their ideas and attitudes about it are a fascinating study in cognitive compartmentalization; even Plato approved. Rome was built and maintained by slaves. The great Cicero actually committed human sacrifice in his execution of the Catilinarian conspirators, justified by a "miracle of the Bona Dea". And interestingly, one of the last episodes of human sacrifice among the Romans was at the hand of Octavian in vengeance for the murder of Julius Caesar.

I agree, current standards and my own personal outlook may be severely limited in scope and comprehension, compared to a timeline in history - that had a different setting of conditions and belief system. Human Sacrifice and it's associated history is not a subject I have explored in depth, nor undertaken a further study of. There's also the view that human sacrifice and execution are two different categories; "human sacrifice" - mainly taking a innocent life due to an agenda and "execution" - as taking a life due to a horrendous deed and inhuman act?

Laura said:
In any event, what the article is saying, that human sacrifice was used to terrify the masses and keep them in line, (if you aren't careful, this will happen to you, too!) is certainly partly true. But there was way more to it than that. This explanation, too, suffers from anachronistic retrojection.

Added: you might want to check out this book:
Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome
http://www.amazon.com/Spectacles-Death-Ancient-Approaching-World/dp/0415248426/ref=mt_paperback
for greater understanding.


I appreciate the references - for further study on the subject and look forward to additional information. Thank You.


Admin note: fixed quotes
 

Laura

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Moderator
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angelburst29 said:
I agree, current standards and my own personal outlook may be severely limited in scope and comprehension, compared to a timeline in history - that had a different setting of conditions and belief system. Human Sacrifice and it's associated history is not a subject I have explored in depth, nor undertaken a further study of. There's also the view that human sacrifice and execution are two different categories; "human sacrifice" - mainly taking a innocent life due to an agenda and "execution" - as taking a life due to a horrendous deed and inhuman act?

In many instances, the two purposes combined. Sometimes it was necessary that the life taken be pure and innocent to be acceptable to the god. And in some cultures, people were happy to be "chosen". Life simply wasn't perceived the same way we perceive it. In other cases, the sacrifice was an act of cleansing the populace of an individual who was an abomination to the gods.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
angelburst29 said:
I have always considered the term, "Human Sacrifice" to be extremely "barbaric", no matter - what form it took or how it was applied.

In this article, which refers to a study that was done, they take the position - that Human Sacrifice "helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors, to the large stratified societies we live in today".

Personally, I disagree with their statement, for I feel it has systematically degraded the Human Race, down through the generations.

I find it, also interesting, that this study surfaces "now" - while "beheadings" are more prominent in the news. Are we being instructed to except "Human Sacrifice" as the norm - due to a limited study?

Interesting question. I was moved to offer this to satisfy the concerns in the context of "a business model" mentioned in reply #4 in case you ever come across it IRL that way:

If we are, then why don't we do an experiment? Since the 'darker role' of religion is mentioned, I assume the receipient(s) of said sacrifice is "God", or "the gods?" Fine, the person or persons to first start calling for human sacrifice will be considered as volunteers and however many human sacrifices are said to be needed will be the number of the elites who will sacrifice themselves, starting at the very top.

How could that be so wrong? The 'cream' of any 'crop', human or agriculture, is by definition 'the best.' We don't want to risk angering the gods further by pretending they don't know we're trying to use them as a dumpster to get rid of the most undersirable low-strata people. The gods would be most pleased with sacrifice of the 'elites' who already consider themselves the best humans due to their intelligence and wealth. After sacrifice, the now ownerless wealth can be distributed where it's needed most.

When such a revisionist interpretation of "how to decide which human gets sacrificed" propagates, it will propagate with the belief that only the 'cream of the crop' can be sacrificed, otherwise it can be no real 'sacrifice' at all.

Does my argument miss anything? I figure if this rebuttal to any contemporary call to sacrifice can be strengthened, it might either silence the callers or solve the problem of what to do with the psychopathic elites. In such case, your consonance will be restored by putting "barbarism" and "degrading" in relation to human sacrifice in a more useful perspective for humanity.

On a different note, I can see another way to explain this that doesn't contradict or conflict with your ideas nor Laura's mention of the SoTT study on the addictive aspect of gluten opiods.

This explanation would draw the distinction between the hunter-gatherer way of life and the agricultural way of life. The major points of this view are:

1) Agriculture trades quality of food for quantity to feed large numbers of people.

2) Agriculture limits variety (today just three high-carbohydrate plants -- wheat, rice, and corn -- provide the bulk of the calories consumed by the human species, yet each one is deficient in certain vitamins or amino acids essential to life. [source--linked page at end of post]).

3) Disease (parasites and infectious disease): From a study based on the excavation of 800 skeletons, by George Armelagos and his colleagues at the University of Mass: Compared to the hunter-gatherers who preceded them, the farmers had a nearly 50 per cent increase in enamel defects indicative of malnutrition, a fourfold increase in iron-deficiency anemia (evidenced by a bone condition called porotic hyperostosis), a theefold rise in bone lesions reflecting infectious disease in general, and an increase in degenerative conditions of the spine, probably reflecting a lot of hard physical labor (direct quote from linked page).

Also mentioned in this connection: Tuberculosis and diarrheal disease had to await the rise of farming, measles and bubonic plague the appearance of large cities. And in the higher social strata, in studies of Chilean mummies, 'elites' were identified due to their having as much as a fourfold lower rate of bone lesions caused by disease. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses.

4) Gender inequality issues: where women's roles were delineated, children were born due to needs of the farm and women were often used as beasts of burden.

5) Class divisions. From the linked article:

Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in a farming population could a healthy, non-producing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses.

6) Starvation risk: because of dependence on a limited number of crops, farmers ran the risk of starvation if one crop failed.

Finally, and in my opinion, the progressivist view that glorifies agriculture's contribution to humanity not only has its downside. In comprehensive view it also has a builtin justification for sacrifice call. Self-appointed religionists could establish themselves as the 'spiritual watchers' of the busy farmer families and play on the fears associated with starvation risk mentioned in number 6 above. After a failed crop, there would be lots of disappointment, sadness, anger and angsting. This can be manipulated...projected on the sky as the gods being angry and needing appeasement via sacrifice. If a good crop year follows sacrifice, then the religionist BS is reinforced and all seems well superficially.

In summary, even the progressivist view that uses the hunter-gatherer/farmer distinction along with studies in Paleopathology has a way of explaining the existence in human history of human sacrifice. So, if they want sacrifice now, let's have it and starting with the callers and going top down. This may also open up employment opportunity paths for the lower but ambitious class as well. :evil:


link ref: _http://www.ditext.com/diamond/mistake.html
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Buddy said:
angelburst29 said:
I have always considered the term, "Human Sacrifice" to be extremely "barbaric", no matter - what form it took or how it was applied.

In this article, which refers to a study that was done, they take the position - that Human Sacrifice "helped humans transition from the small egalitarian groups of our ancestors, to the large stratified societies we live in today".

Personally, I disagree with their statement, for I feel it has systematically degraded the Human Race, down through the generations.

I find it, also interesting, that this study surfaces "now" - while "beheadings" are more prominent in the news. Are we being instructed to except "Human Sacrifice" as the norm - due to a limited study?

Interesting question. I was moved to offer this to satisfy the concerns in the context of "a business model" mentioned in reply #4 in case you ever come across it IRL that way:

If we are, then why don't we do an experiment? Since the 'darker role' of religion is mentioned, I assume the receipient(s) of said sacrifice is "God", or "the gods?" Fine, the person or persons to first start calling for human sacrifice will be considered as volunteers and however many human sacrifices are said to be needed will be the number of the elites who will sacrifice themselves, starting at the very top.

How could that be so wrong? The 'cream' of any 'crop', human or agriculture, is by definition 'the best.' We don't want to risk angering the gods further by pretending they don't know we're trying to use them as a dumpster to get rid of the most undersirable low-strata people. The gods would be most pleased with sacrifice of the 'elites' who already consider themselves the best humans due to their intelligence and wealth. After sacrifice, the now ownerless wealth can be distributed where it's needed most.

When such a revisionist interpretation of "how to decide which human gets sacrificed" propagates, it will propagate with the belief that only the 'cream of the crop' can be sacrificed, otherwise it can be no real 'sacrifice' at all.

Does my argument miss anything? I figure if this rebuttal to any contemporary call to sacrifice can be strengthened, it might either silence the callers or solve the problem of what to do with the psychopathic elites. In such case, your consonance will be restored by putting "barbarism" and "degrading" in relation to human sacrifice in a more useful perspective for humanity.

Your revisionist interpretation Buddy, actually makes sense, especially in dealing with the psychopathic element in our society. They could look upon it as another form of "exceptionalism" ?
 
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