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Sacrifice Ceremony

Room 7

The practice of human sacrifice was common to many ancient cultures. Death, the shedding of blood and physical mutilation ritually transformed the victim. The life being offered to the gods gave the transformed individual sacred status (sacrum facere).

The ritual combat ceremony and subsequent human sacrifice practiced by the Moche was not unique to this culture. In Mesoamerica we find the “Flower Wars” practiced by the Aztecs of Mexico, which ended with the ritual sacrifice of the defeated warriors. Among the Mayans, the ritual of the “ball game” appears to have culminated with the sacrifice of some of the players.

Human sacrifices were also common among the Celts, Scandinavians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and oriental peoples.

Sacrifice is the central act in almost all religions. Human sacrifice entailed the offering of a victim in order to placate the wrath of gods, spirits or cosmic forces. In today’s world symbolic forms of sacrifice can still be seen in certain religious practices.

Among the Moche, the object of ritual combat between warriors seems to have been the selection of candidates for sacrifice from among the most productive members of society. The society offered its gods one of its most valued assets in exchange for the well-being of the community. Sacrifice constituted an act of giving and receiving.