Human Sacrificial Remains Found in South Korea

Traditional Aztec dance
Traditional Aztec dancers from the CeAtl Tonalli group perform at a march during May Day events in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 1, 2017. The Aztecs also historically practised human-sacrifices. REUTERS/David Ryder

Evidence of an ancient human sacrifice ritual has been uncovered in South Korea, where it appears human beings were murdered to bring stability and success to new construction projects.

Two skeletons, which appear to have been involved in human sacrifice, were found in Wolseong, or the Moon Castle in Gyeongju, South Korea, a popular tourist site. Gyeongju was the capital of the former Silla Kingdom established in 52 BC. It had a 992-year history.

"This is the first archaeological evidence that folklore about humans being sacrificed for the foundations of buildings, dams or walls were true stories," said spokeswoman Choi Moon-Jung from the Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage told AFP.

Archeologists have confirmed that the sacrificial victims were not burned alive, but they are unsure how they were put to death. The remains include a 166-centimeter tall man and a 159-centimeter person, whose gender has not yet been identified.

Ancient Korean cultures traditionally buried living people with kings to service their needs in the afterlife, so it's possible this is how they died. "The bodies exhumed at this site were highly likely to have been buried after a ritual," Choi Byung-hyun, a professor emeritus of archaeology at Soongsil University, told the Korean Herald.

According to AFP the skeletons were found side by side. They were positioned under a wall, with one facing upwards and one with its face and arms turned towards the other.

This is the first example archeologists have found where people were sacrificed to ensure the successful construction of a building. Many other ancient societies engaged in sacrificial rites, from the Mayans, as blood was seen as nourishment for the Mayan gods. In ancient Aztec culture, human sacrifices were also made to the Gods, while self-sacrifice, was also practised.