Aztec Sacrifice Research Paper

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The Aztecs could probably be considered the poster-people for human sacrifice; however, with a lack of true primary sources, it has been hard to understand the how, what and why’s of the human sacrifice.The Aztecs had a complex spiritual view of human sacrifice. In most instances, prisoners of war were by far the most common sacrificial victims. The Aztecs actually held wars specifically for the capture of sacrificial warriors. Aside from war captives, most sacrifices were either volunteers or slaves. Interestingly, many of the war captives, volunteers or slaves would not resist being the sacrificial victim. This was primarily because many considered a “flowery death” (death on the sacrificial altar) as the highest honor one could give and be given to the gods. They believed that those who were sacrificed on the sacrificial altar and those that died on the battlefield were the only ones worthy of ascending to heaven. The purpose of these Aztec sacrifice was to nourish and repay the gods for their sacrifice in creating the sun, world and humanity. They repaid the gods with the life force and soul of a person. They particularly believed that this was necessary to keep evil from defeating the good and prevent the world from coming to an end (Cartwright). The Aztecs in particular had two very interesting concepts connected with human sacrifice. One was the idea of god impersonation; which Brandon discussed in detail. The other interesting concept connected with Aztec sacrifices was cannibalism. Aztec cannibalism was a highly ritualized event in which only certain high-ranking individuals of the Aztec society were allowed to eat choice parts of a sacrificial victim. Different parts of the body represented different characteristics. Th... ... middle of paper ... ... gods. In general, it is very hard to come to a flawless conclusion as there is a bias in the sources available. Most of these came from either the Spanish conquistadors or from the natives oppressed by the Aztecs. While archaeological evidence does reveal the methods of sacrifice and a small scale ritual cannibalism, it will be very hard to definitively tell if the Aztecs practiced large scale cannibalism. Based on the evidence available and reliability of the sources, it can be concluded that the Aztecs did practice ritual cannibalism but no definitive answer on the extent of it. Human sacrifices, cannibalism, and the behavior of Aztec warriors can all be attributed to and explained by motivational factors, such as religion and the desire to achieve status in society. However, it cannot be passed on as being a dietary supplement when none has been established.

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