Archaeologists discovered on a Zeus altar from Mount Lykaion a Greek skeleton that may have been sacrificed to the god. The discovery was announced by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs.
This would be the first time human sacrifice is close to being archaeologically documented. Even if ancient writers talked about the practice, the Greek archaeologists did not confirm it anywhere in the world.
The human remains are supposed to be 3,000 years old, and they belong to a male teenager. According to the scientists that were involved in the excavation, part of the skull was missing, and the boy was laid among two vertical lines of stones, with slabs covering his pelvis.
The Greek skeleton was found in the middle of a 100-foot ash altar, next to a stone platform.
Zeus is the god of sky and thunder. The altar from Mount Lykaion has been an archeological site since 2007. The archeologists found there vases, coins, animal and human figurines, drinking cups, and a large quantity of ashes and biological remains coming from burnt animal offerings. Most of them came from goats and sheep, just like the ancient documents noted.
Ancient literary sources also described human sacrifice at the altar. However, the boy skeleton would be the first proof that ancient Greeks actually offered their own people to the god of the sky.
A legend from 110 AD tells the story of a king that sacrificed a child and was transformed into a wolf. The king, Lycaon, brought the baby to the altar of Zeus, took its life, and poured its blood on the stones. Immediately after, the king was changed into a wolf.
Another legend says that a boy was sacrificed along with other animals, and the meat was cooked and eaten together. Out of the people at the table, whoever ate a human part would turn into a wolf for nine years.
However, the archaeologists are not yet sure that the teenager found at the altar was indeed sacrificed. They say that there is a lot of excavation that still needs to be performed in order to have all the information related to the skeleton.
In the last three years, only 7% of the site was explored by archaeologists.
Being that the place is a sacrificial altar, the scientists believe that it’s unlikely that the boy was brought there to be buried.
The ancient writers have associated Mount Lykaion with human sacrifice for centuries. Even so, there was no evidence of the practice until now. The place occasioned massive slaughters, tens of thousands of animals were found to be killed over the centuries in the honor of Zeus.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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