Sacrificial remains of humans and animals, believed to be at least 2,700 years old, have been found in central China’s Luoyang city , Chinese archaeologists say.
The bones are part of a recently discovered burial complex covering nearly a quarter acre (945 square meters) and containing 14 tombs, a water channel, and 59 pits from the Western Zhou dynasty.
During the Western Zhou period (1100 B.C. to 771 B.C.), the sacrifices of animals—and sometimes humans—to ancestors or deities were a routine part of Chinese culture. The sacrifices were often made to bless houses, said David Sena, a China historian at the University of Texas at Austin.
“In general, there’s been a tendency to describe Western Zhou as a more humanistic period, when the practice of human sacrifices”—which were commonplace during the preceding Shang Dynasty—”were waning,” Sena said.
“But I think the archaeological evidence shows quite clearly that human sacrifices persisted throughout the Zhou period as well.”