Saturday, April 14, 2007

Human Sacrifice in Ancient Moche Culture


My Three Shrinks (along with a high school English teacher friend of Dinah's) went to a lecture today at the Walters Art Museum entitled "Human Sacrifice, Power, and Ritual in Moche Society and Visual Culture," by Prof. Steve Bourget.

This was a nice thing to do on a Saturday afternoon. He started out with a picture of Freud, and a quote from him, which said something to the effect that 'sacrifice is the cornerstone of the creation of society'. Before long, we were treated to pictures of pottery and other archeological findings depicting the South American Moche culture (~450-700 A.D.), which included human sacrifice as part of their beliefs, and also as a form of social control.

As depicted in the image above, you can see two fellas at the bottom with their blood being drained from their neck by tribe elders, dressed in various animal-like garb. The blood is put in a cup, which is being passed around the gang at the top. It is not certain whether the blood was drank, but it was used to pigment various pieces of artwork.

Here's the interesting thing. Various lines of evidence points to the conclusion that the Moche sacrifices were used as rituals in response to El Nino-related changes in weather and ocean conditions.

Makes me wonder how much of what we are doing to reduce carbon emissions amounts to ritual sacrifices to increase the perception that we are in control of Mother Nature's ecological cycles.

What's it have to do with psychiatry? I'm sure you can find something in this (I didn't even mention all the penises and the talk about the role of men ("domesticated dogs") and women (a "wild" quality due to their menstrual cycles, which may have been linked to lunar cycles).