Bones May Belong to Teen Sacrificed to Zeus

Giving credence to legends of human sacrifices in ancient Greece
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2016 6:47 PM CDT
Bones May Belong to Teen Sacrificed to Zeus
A 3,000-year-old skeleton of a teenager excavated recently at Mount Lykaion in Greece may point to the practice of human sacrifices among the ancient Greeks.   (Greek Culture Ministry via AP)

(Newser) – An ancient legend tells of a man sneaking a human boy into an animal sacrifice to Zeus on Greece's Mount Lykaion and being turned into a wolf as punishment, the Washington Post reports. But despite Plato and others writing about ongoing human sacrifices, archaeologists have never been able to confirm the practice on mainland Greece, according to the AP. That may have just changed. On Wednesday, the Guardian reports, the Greek government announced the discovery of a 3,000-year-old skeleton belonging to a teenage boy. It was found buried at the ancient sacrificial altar on Mount Lykaion amidst the ashes from 1,000 years of animal sacrifices. The find may confirm what the AP calls "one of the darkest legends of antiquity."

story continues below

An expert at Columbia University tells the Post that the find, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, could be "extremely significant." Ancient writers reported ongoing human sacrifices at Mount Lykaion, a center of Zeus worship, possibly in hopes of being turned into wolves. Evidence—including the removal of most of the skull and the arrangement of the body—points to the newly discovered remains being those of a human sacrifice. However, a body being buried at the altar where it was sacrificed would be unusual. Archaeologists hope to find more evidence for the existence of human sacrifices in ancient Greece. And with only 7% of the Mount Lykaion altar having been excavated, there's a chance more human remains are waiting. (An archaeologist thinks she's solved the mystery of Mexico's Teotihuacan.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.