Eight human sacrifices were found at the entrance to this tomb containing the remains of two 12-year-olds from ancient Mesopotamia
Credit: photograph courtesy of Ba ̧sur Höyük research project; Antique 201
About 5,000 years ago, the Mesopotamians buried two 12-year-olds – a boy and a girl – and surrounded their slender bodies with hundreds of bronze spearheads and eight human victims, a new study shows.
The eight human victims were placed at the grave of Basur Höyük in southeastern Turkey, the researchers said. The team noted the age of six of the human victims and found that the victims were between the ages of 11 and 20 years old.
These two 12-year-olds, along with the eight human sacrifices, were "deposited in a hospital individual event, and equipped with an unprecedented number of high-quality grave goods for the period and region," the researchers wrote in a study published yesterday online (28. June) in the journal Antiquity.
The mysterious tomb was completed in 2014, the study's two researchers, Brenna Hassett, a postdoctoral fellow for archeology at the Natural History Museum in London; and Haluk Sağlamtimur, archeology professor at Ege University in Izmir, Turkey. [25 Cultures That Practiced Human Sacrifice]
The remains of an adult were also found next to the two children, but this body could have come from an earlier funeral that mingled with the two 12-year-olds, Hassett told Live Science.
And although the evidence is not 100 percent unambiguous, scientists are pretty sure the eight people were killed.
"Although we only have evidence of violent trauma to two of the skeletons, it is important to remember that violent death does not do so, leaving traces on the skeleton," Hassett said. "As a cruel example, punctures usually target the soft parts of the body that do not conserve."
She added that "from the careful dressing and positioning of the bodies outside the door to the main chamber, it seems that all eight were victim sacrifices." The term "victim sacrifice" refers to people who have been sacrificed so that they can accompany or serve others in the hereafter.
The human sacrifices were buried with textiles, beads and pottery.
The discovery goes to archaeologists with a series of mysteries. Who were the two 12-year-olds who are the focus of the funeral? Were they sacrificed too? Why was human sacrifice actually carried out at this point?
"Unfortunately, the preservation in the chamber was not great, so we have no evidence that the [two 12-year-old] children were sacrificed," Hassett said. But because the two 12-year-olds have received such a burdensome burial, it seems that they have "an important biosocial status," Hassett and Sağlamtimur wrote in the study.
Archaeologists know that human sacrifices took place elsewhere in Mesopotamia, including a nearby place called Arslantepe, also dating back to about 5,000 years ago.
"One thought is that we are witnessing in Basur Höyük part of a phenomenon that we observe in other societies around the world, where power is consolidated in a more structured, more hierarchical hierarchy, as archaeologists call" early states "[Hassett's
"Perhaps [what] we see is a demonstration of power in an increasingly hierarchical society, the power to have great wealth – and even people – could be the same kind of power needed to build a state-like society" Hassett said, "It's a really intriguing puzzle that will hopefully tell us more about how human societies are shaping and changing."
In the future, the team plans stable isotope analysis (a kind of study that provides birthplace information) the nutrition of the deceased individuals) and DNA studies on the skeletons.
he Live Science.