Skip to comments.Grisly Human Sacrifice Revealed at Syria Dig
Posted on 07/02/2008 5:59:58 PM PDT by forkinsocket
Around 2300 B.C., an acrobat was killed during a bizarre sacrificial ceremony in what is now northeastern Syria, according to a new study published in the current issue of the journal Antiquity.
Gory evidence of the entertainer's death -- along with the remains of several rare horse-like animals which appear to have been sacrificed as well -- was found in the remains of a building at a site called Tell Brak, which was once the ancient city of Nagar. The findings suggest some ancient cultures may have sacrificed well-known public figures, as well as animals of great personal and monetary worth.
Joan Oates, lead author of the paper, and her colleagues were struck by the arrangement of three human bodies in the reception and main office portion of the ancient building. They describe the skeletal layout as "unusual, indeed strange."
One skeleton belonged to the acrobat, while another could have been the driver of a cart pulled by the animals. The third individual remains unidentified.
"It's the skeletons of the humans that are strange because they were not 'buried' in the usual sense of below ground level, and the heads were missing," said Oates, of Cambridge University's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
"They were simply lying on a surface, on which the outline of the body itself was still visible -- that is, they were not buried, but the room was rapidly filled in after their deposition," she added.
Fine silver jewelry, the remains of a dog along with its water bowl, and other animal remains were also found in the building.
The researchers think some kind of natural disaster may have led to a brief abandonment of the area before it was ritualistically closed with the sacrifices and "some propitiation of the gods."
They believe the acrobat was an entertainer known as a hub, or hub ki, words associated with the idea of "always jumping about." Ancient seals depict such individuals with spiky hair and performing contortionist-type tricks.
Oates and her colleagues identify the person as being such an ancient acrobat because his or her knee, tibia, arm and foot bones indicate the person was physically active, having executed jumps and turns "in a very disciplined way with feet pointed downwards during leaps, much as can be seen in some modern dancers."
The scientists compared the skeleton with the anatomy of a modern dancer and found direct similarities.
While they cannot yet tell exactly how the entertainer and the other two individuals were killed, it's likely that the acrobat participated in some kind of ritualistic performance that culminated in his or her own death by beheading.
Aside from bringing this dramatic moment of early history back to life, the findings could reveal information about culture in what may have been the world's oldest city.
Jason Ur, a Harvard University anthropologist, recently led a survey of Tell Brak. He believes it was part of a large city that may have predated Uruk, the world's oldest city. Uruk is thought to have been built by the Sumerian king Gilgamesh.
"Ours is a largely urban society, and the nascent urbanization of Tell Brak tells us about the formation of the very first cities in the world," said Ur.
Circus of the Stars old style?
Proves they were animmals even back then.
Evidence that Islam preceeded Judaism. /sarc
Guess the ancients took their ‘Reality’ shows a bit more seriously than we do.
Sounds like chick-talk to me. Women don't always pick the logical explanation.
Thank God for modern civilization.
Where did you get the picture of JoJo the Dwarf? ;-)
Especially if you're an acrobat.
Article didn’t have any further explanation, but I suspect these were onagers, a wild ass that was apparently (sort of) domesticated before horses or donkeys.
I’ll buy that. I don’t know why they couldn’t just come out and say it. Onagers are not especially bizarre. The article made me think they had found a hippogriff or something.
There are numerous early Sumerian references to onagers, although some think they were just ordinary asses.
(Pardon my French.)
I find this interesting because it seems onagers are more or less untameable, while asses and horses obviously are, the difference presumably being purely genetic.
Mimes should still take care though.
Well, that's one heckuva a name for a Mesopotamia specialist...BTT
Yes, the code words when they attacked were “Torah, Torah, Torah”.
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