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Beautiful Virgins and Male War Captives: The Role of Sex Attribution in Ancient Maya Human Sacrifice at Midnight Terror Cave, Belize

Author(s): Cristina Verdugo ; Kimberly Zhu ; Lars Fehren-Schmitz

Year: 2017

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Summary

The prurient element in the popular notion of the Maya sacrifice of "beautiful virgins" during the first half of the twentieth century (Frost and Arnold 1909; Willard 1926) appears to have made researchers wary of the topic of gender in study of human sacrifice. The interest in human sacrifice arose in the 1990s at the same time as the formulation of the warfare hypothesis for the collapse of Maya civilization (Demerast 1990) so that models of human sacrifice tended to assume that victims were largely male war captives. In reality, few large skeletal assemblages related to sacrifice exist to provide hard data on the issue. The Midnight Terror Cave assemblage, consisting of more than 10,000 bones, is one of the few. This paper reports on the detailed examination of all the pelvises in the assemblage using osteological and paleogenetic techniques to shed light on the sexual composition of sacrificial victims.


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Cite this Record

Beautiful Virgins and Male War Captives: The Role of Sex Attribution in Ancient Maya Human Sacrifice at Midnight Terror Cave, Belize. Cristina Verdugo, Kimberly Zhu, Lars Fehren-Schmitz. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430302)


Keywords

General
aDNA Gender sacrifice

Geographic Keywords
Mesoamerica


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14459

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America