Human Sacrifice: Rituals, Prosperity and Social Cooperation

Rosa Carmona Vera and Dr. Colleen Delaney

Notice: This poster includes images of human remains, such as skeletons or mummies.
Please scroll down to view the poster.


The idea of sacrifice is seen widely across cultures and religions. Past civilizations believed deeply in their traditions and religion which resulted in extremities such as death within their own population. The development of the past societies such as the Aztecs, Incas, and Ancient Northern kingdoms were dependent on agriculture and trade to survive. Important individuals of a society would initiate rituals that incorporated human sacrifice to a deity or a higher power in exchange for prosperity. The purpose of this research is to understand how societies over time used religion and rituals to perpetuate authority and cultivate relationships with their gods through the people. Through the use of comparative research and secondary data analysis of different cultures, I proposed a theory on human sacrifice in past civilizations. My results have concluded that past civilizations not only used human sacrifice as a religious ritual but also as a way to bring their societies together, re-establish power, and increase society cooperation.


  1. Your presentation was super enlightening to read as it brought up topics that I covered in my presentation such as death rituals. I liked how you brought in the aspects of agriculture as it relates to past civilizations with their religion and culture. Human sacrifice is such an important event to these cultures as you mentioned because it is symbolic in how a person will be sacrificed for a greater cause in life. I am sure it is still something practiced today and that we should be doing more research about. I for one am interested to learn more about this death ritual because it shows a lot about a society and the things we can learn about them. Great job.

  2. Excellent presentation analyzing rituals concerning human sacrifice in the context of three cultures. I personally find it fascinating how you also connect this idea to the concept of war within the confines of historical reasoning, as this definitely seems to play a big part in how rituals concerning human sacrifice operate in ways outside of an overarching religious backdrop with which it is normally associated. Furthermore, war is a cultural phenomenon in and of itself, and juxtaposing human sacrifice with a religious backdrop within the culture it operates in versus against a culture it operates against (going to war with) shows some striking differences between how death is remembered while human sacrifices are being made nevertheless.

  3. Hi Rosa, your poster looks wonderful! It’s really informative and easy to follow. Also, the connection you made between these historical sacrifices and our modern society is really interesting. You brought a totally new perspective to thinking about the kind of sacrifices we practice even now. Great work!

  4. Hi Rosa! I really enjoyed your poster and presentation. I think that it is so important that we consider the context of these rituals and I am so glad that you drew attention to it. You did a great job!

  5. Hi Rosa, I absolutely loved your capstone and your presentation poster. I noticed some similarities between our capstones. I did my capstone on mumification and religion, specifically in Egypt! I think you did a great job at analyzing past societies and their different rituals. Religion has played a huge role in many past societies, especially when it comes to their ideologies about death and ritualistic behavior. I find it very interesting on how much we can learn about different cultures through their religion. I definitely learned a lot about the Aztecs, Incas, and Ancient Northern kingdoms. I found this project very interesting and informative! Great job!!

  6. Hi Rosa,
    I love your poster, you did such a great job!
    I always thought human sacrifice was thing of the past but your connection between the modern “sacrifice” for our country with the Inca and other human sacrifice for ultimately better life is the same. You just opened my mind in a new way. It is true that it brings the people together. I would’ve never made that connection.
    The mummified photos are amazing. The photo of the mass grave skulls make me wonder what exactly happened.
    Great Capstone!

  7. Hi Rosa, I loved the flow of your presentation as it was very informative and brought in a lot of interesting concepts that I never considered before. In high school we learned a lot about bog bodies and even in Methods and Theory but we never really went into depth about why the sacrifices were made beyond “appeasing the gods”. Your presentation brings a lot more depth into these topics that I think are important such as how it brought people together and brought about their own sense of community through appeasing the gods and celebrating the prosperity that was believed to follow these type of sacrifices. Overall you did an exceptional job and should be very proud of your presentation.

  8. Hi Rosa, I loved this topic. I liked that you spoke about each cultural groups rituals and beliefs go into the various sacrifice significance. I especially liked your explanation of the bog bodies because I didn’t know anything about this practice before. I can definitely see that sacrifice is still prevailing in our modern day culture even if it’s not the same as the practices you described in your study. Thank you so much!

  9. Hi, Rosa
    Great poster, presentation, and topic. When I hear about human sacrifice I’ve always associate it with ancient ways of life, but you have definitely gave me a new prospective in comparison of reasoning of sacrifice to what we see today. I never thought of war throughout history similar to ancient sacrifice. Great job!!!

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