Mayans Sacrificed Boys—Not Virgin Girls

Mexican archaeologist brings up surprising new evidence
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2008 11:16 AM CST
A large iguana lounges at the Mayan pyramids located in the Mayan Riviera in the Xcaret ecological reserve in this Dec. 24, 2004 file photo. The Maya may not have sacrificed young girls, as previously...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The human sacrifices offered up to the Mayan gods in Pre-Columbian Mexico were likely boys and young men, not virgin girls, Reuters reports. A Mexican archaeologist has ventured into the sacred sinkholes of Chichen Itza to recover bones from 127 bodies, and discovered that more than 80% of them came from pre-adolescent males between the ages of 3 and 11. The sacrificed children were hurled into the water-filled caverns, scientists believe.

The rest of the victims seem to have been adult men. The previously held assumption that the remains were from young females was fueled by jade jewelry found among the bones. The rituals are thought to have been performed by Mayan priests to appease the rain god Chaac. The god was believed to prefer "small things," in part because his four helpers "were represented as tiny people," said the archaeologist.