Sacrifice In The Aztecs

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Of all beliefs and practices in ancient religion, sacrifice, both animal and human, is the most striking, certainly from a modern standpoint (Watson, 99). When we think of sacrifice in terms of religion we usually picture large gatherings and animals being slaughtered. Religious sacrifice pertains to a cultic act in which they offer certain objects to higher gods or other supernatural powers. Many religions around the world indulge in such practices, with some offering either animals or humans, and some offering both. One might question, what is the primary influence towards religious sacrifice? In some aspect, the reason behind such a practice has not quite been fully understood, especially since it is performed throughout various parts of …show more content…
The Aztecs, however, were involved in both animal and human sacrifice, and for many different purposes. Human sacrifice often included both self-sacrifice and the sacrifice of other human beings. Self-sacrifice, like bloodletting, consisted of cutting or puncturing oneself, while the other form was simply killing another human. Human sacrifice often involved death by extraction of the heart. Many victims were specifically chosen based on their appearance and their correlation to the gods. Some gods were offered war captives and others with slaves. For Mexica people, “Human sacrifice fulfilled multiple purposes, both at the religious and socio-political level. They considered themselves the “elected” people, the people of the Sun who had been chosen by the gods to feed them and by doing so were responsible for the continuity of the world” (Maestri, 2017). Furthermore, the Aztecs gained so much power in Mesoamerica that human sacrifice added value to political publicity. They required surrounding states to offer human sacrifice as a way of retaining total control. This practice aimed to vanquish neighbors and address a political message to fellow citizens as well as foreign authority. Ancient documents show that human sacrifice also might have been offered for agricultural purposes such as harvest. The Aztecs showed the process most clearly, for an adolescent girl was beheaded at the temple of the maize god in a ceremony performed when the crop was ripe (Watson,