Mayan Artifacts Attempted Trafficking Rep. Pic
New DNA research shed light on the nature of human sacrifices by the Mayans Raquel Moss/Unsplash.

New research has provided insights into the identities of victims buried at the ancient Mayan city of Chichén Itzá and their living relatives. By analyzing the genomes of child remains found near a Sacred Cenote, researchers have discovered that all the individuals were male and many were closely related, including two sets of identical twins.

This practice is believed to be linked to the significance of twins in ancient Mayan mythology, challenging the previously held belief that young women and girls were the primary victims of sacrifice at the site.

Rodrigo Barquera, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and the lead author of the new paper, described the findings as a groundbreaking discovery. The research, published in the journal Nature and reported by the Washington Post, marks the first known instance of an all-male child burial site in Mesoamerica.

The study focused on more than 100 child remains recovered from a cistern close to the cenote. Cisterns, or chultún, are historically associated with water, rain, and child sacrifice.

In addition to the two pairs of identical twins, the team found that a quarter of the remains tested had a close relative in the cistern. This suggests that the sacrificed children may have been specifically selected for their biological kinship. The research indicates that the children shared similar diets and were of similar ages, implying they were chosen for sacrifice at the same ritual.

The practice of sacrificing close child relatives is linked to a sacred Mayan text, the Popol Vuh, which describes the sacrifice of a pair of twins who lost to the gods in a ballgame. The twins' sons, known as the Hero Twins, later avenged their relatives.

Christina Warinner, a co-author of the report and a professor of anthropology at Harvard University, emphasized that early 20th-century accounts falsely popularized the notion of young women and girls being sacrificed.

Chichén Itzá, known for its massive pyramid and historical significance, first rose to prominence around A.D. 600 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. While it began to decline in the 15th century, it remained a significant pilgrimage site into the colonial period.

In Mesoamerican cultures, death was not seen negatively. According to their myths and beliefs, the sacrifices were considered correct. Barquera emphasized that these rituals were more complex than simply asking for divine favors or forgiveness.

The study also connected the ancient remains to modern-day residents of Tixcacaltuyub, a town about 25 miles from Chichén Itzá. DNA comparisons revealed that the children sacrificed were from nearby ancient Mayan communities. The residents of Tixcacaltuyub expressed happiness about their link to the site, seeing it as a way to enhance communication with tourists and address issues of equality.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.