Animal sacrifices are cultural and traditional methods that date to ancient civilizations thousands of years ago. Like human sacrifices, animal sacrifice rituals are also seen as a way for a religion or a tribe member to make offerings, establish coordination, and express communication with a god.
In modern times, this practice has long been denounced by several animal rights, and welfare activists and organizations. Yet, these methods were widespread in different parts of the world during ancient times.
Although some animal sacrifice rituals have been passed on or buried following the downfall of ancient civilizations, scientists are still exploring the said practices that were recorded from the Americas to as far as Africa, Europe, and Asia.
One of these rituals has occurred in the Iberian Peninsula in Europe, where mass animal sacrifices were found at a mysterious 2,500-year-old archeological site in Spain. This is according to a new study led by scientists from various institutions in Spain.
Mass Animal Sacrifices
(Photo : Photo by Kati Hoehl on Unsplash)
In the study published in the journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday, November 22, researchers confirmed the existence of the mass animal sacrifices at a large building known as Casas del Turunuelo that dates back to the Iron Age.
It is located along the Guadiana River valley in the province of Badajoz, Spain. The animal sacrifice rituals were identified based on zooarchaeological analyses of the skeletal bones of 52 animals unearthed at the archaeological site.
In addition, the analyses show that the structure, where the animal bones were excavated, belongs to the ancient Tartessos civilization, which prospered in the southwestern Iberian Peninsula between the 9th and 5th centuries BCE. before they mysteriously disappeared. The bones include 6,700 specimens and were found to have been used in multiple animal sacrifice rituals.
The research team involved in the PLOSE ONE study also confirmed that the ritual was not part of a single event, but rather a series of rituals that were conducted at Casas del Turunnuelo’s last moments of the ancient practice. Based on the research paper, the mass animal sacrifices occurred towards the end of the 5th century BCE, a time when the said Iron Age Tartessian building was intentionally destroyed and the animals intentionally buried.
Also Read: Animal Courtship Ritual: 5 Weird and Scary Courtship Rituals in the Animal Kingdom
What is the Purpose of Animal Sacrifice?
The reason behind the abandonment of the archaeological site in Spain remains a mystery to this day. However, archeological and anthropological experts have said that human or animal sacrifices are also made to appease the gods, especially at a time of famine or natural disasters like drought. The purpose of animal sacrifice rituals can also be traced back to a way of thanksgiving and asking for good health and fertility.
Also called ritual killing, both human and animal sacrifice rituals is a religious act that has roots from offerings to supernatural beings, according to a 2017 research article published in the journal Annual Review of Anthropology.
In today’s time sacrifice and related ritualized violence have been a subject of debate among experts. Even if human sacrifices have generally vanished, animal advocates are still against modern animal sacrifices, particularly in a religious setting.
Related Article: Ritual Drug: Sacrificed Children Found with Cocaine and Ayahuasca in Their Bodies During Inca Sacrificial Rites
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