DNA exams reveal Mayans sacrificed boys on the Sacred Cenote in Chichén Itzá | EUROtoday

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The historical Mayan metropolis of Chichén Itzá, lengthy referred to as a website of human sacrifice, has fascinated thousands and thousands of holiday makers from all over the world. But new analysis reveals extra clues to the identities of a few of the younger victims who have been buried on the website in southeastern Mexico — in addition to their relations who’re nonetheless alive in the present day.

Researchers analyzed genomes from the stays of dozens of kids present in a mass burial website close to the Sacred Cenote, an enormous sinkhole within the ceremonial heart of Chichén Itzá the place different human sacrifices have been beforehand found, and located that the entire people have been males and a major quantity have been intently associated — together with two units of equivalent twins — a apply the scientists consider was linked to the importance of twins in historical Mayan mythology.

The findings contradict the favored perception that younger girls and ladies made up nearly all of these sacrificed on the website.

Rodrigo Barquera, lead creator of a brand new paper on the analysis, stated in an interview that the findings have been “a breakthrough.” It was the primary instance of an all-male toddler burial website there, stated Barquera, a postdoctoral researcher on the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

The analysis, revealed this week within the journal Nature, targeted on an evaluation of a few of the greater than 100 little one stays recovered from a cistern near the cenote throughout the building of a brand new airport runway between April and June 1967. Cisterns, or chultún, have lengthy been related to water, rain and little one sacrifice, in keeping with the researchers, and subterranean buildings have been believed to be entrances to the underworld.

To guarantee not one of the stays have been examined a number of occasions, the group collected a selected bone from every cranium — however as this was not intact in the entire stays, solely 64 have been analyzed. The researchers then used radiocarbon courting to ascertain that the youngsters — half of whom have been between 3 and 6 years outdated — died over a interval of 500 years, till the center of the twelfth century.


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In addition to the 2 pairs of equivalent twins, the group discovered {that a} quarter of the stays examined had an in depth relative within the cistern, “suggesting that the sacrificed children may have been specifically selected for their close biological kinship.” Due to the truth that not the entire stays may very well be examined, researchers say the variety of kids discovered on the website who have been associated might have been even greater.

They additionally found that the intently associated kids had consumed related diets. This, along with the truth that the youngsters have been of an analogous age once they died, signifies they have been chosen for sacrifice on the similar ritual, in keeping with the findings.

The researchers linked the apply of sacrificing shut little one relations to a sacred Mayan textual content, the Popol Vuh, which detailed the sacrifice of a pair of twins after they misplaced to the gods in a ballgame. One of the brothers’ personal twin sons, referred to as the Hero Twins, went on to avenge their slain relations, in keeping with the textual content.

“Early 20th century accounts falsely popularized lurid tales of young women and girls being sacrificed at the site,” Christina Warinner, a co-author of the report and professor of anthropology at Harvard University, stated in an announcement. “This study, conducted as a close international collaboration, turns that story on its head and reveals the deep connections between ritual sacrifice and the cycles of human death and rebirth described in sacred Maya texts.”

The historical metropolis of Chichén Itzá, house to one of many largest pyramids from the Mayan interval, first rose to prominence in A.D. 600. According to UNESCO, the location started to decay within the fifteenth century — however researchers say it remained a well-liked website for Mayan pilgrims into the colonial interval and past. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage website in 1988.

Barquera acknowledged that it may very well be jarring to understand the stays on the website belonged to “kids, and that they were sacrificed.”

“But we have to bear in mind that death is a completely different concept for Mesoamerican cultures. … Death is not seen as a bad thing. Of course, under our perspective, it’s wrong. But back then, and according to their myths and their beliefs, what they were doing was considered correct, so we cannot judge what they did under our modern point of view.”

The age of the burial website and its use over years present that Mayan rituals “were much more complex than just offering things to the gods because you need a favor or you need to ask for forgiveness,” he added.

The analysis was not restricted to uncovering the traditional historical past of Chichén Itzá. The research additionally in contrast the DNA from the skulls with blood samples taken from 68 modern-day residents of Tixcacaltuyub, a city about 25 miles from the traditional website, and found that they have been associated to the youngsters discovered within the cistern, indicating that the youngsters whose stays have been discovered there had been taken from close by historical Mayan communities.

Barquera stated the Tixcacaltuyub residents have been “really happy” to listen to of their hyperlink to the location and stated they believed the findings would assist them to raised talk with vacationers and open conversations about equality.

“You know, you go to these archaeological places, you praise the people that built these amazing structures, and then you get out of the archaeological site and you treat Indigenous people in a bad way,” he stated.

“And now they feel this is a way to tell people, ‘Look, we are the same, so why are you excluding us from important conversations, for example health and education, if we are the same people?’” he added.

Last 12 months, the location, which was as soon as named one of many seven trendy wonders of the world, attracted a report 2.3 million guests.