Ancient Maya ruins reveal plethora of human sacrifice knives

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
July 28, 2023

These recently discovered knives were found strategically placed to the southwest of Kulubá’s central square.

Ancient Maya ruins in present-day Mexico have revealed a plethora of knives used for human sacrifice.

Deep within the pre-Hispanic settlement of Kulubá, located in Mexico’s southern state of Yucatán, archaeologists have unearthed an intriguing array of stone knives near a sacrificial altar. This discovery, tucked within the heart of an ancient Maya city, significantly advances our understanding of these sophisticated civilizations.

Ancient Maya Ruins Reveal Human Sacrifice Knives

Excavations at this historic site have revealed a collection of 16 knives— three constructed from flint and a further 13 from obsidian. According to Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) researchers, these knives were likely presented as ritualistic offerings.

The site, home to various structures including residences, a central plaza, and an expansive palace, was actively used between 600-1050 AD. This palace, towering 20 feet high, spans 180 feet in length and 49 feet in width, serving as a testament to the architectural prowess of the Maya.

Maya Civilization: A Rich Cultural Heritage

The Maya civilization reigned supreme over the regions that are now southeastern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of El Salvador and Honduras for over three millennia, ending with the Spanish colonization.

The Maya were unique in their creation of the only fully developed writing system in pre-Columbian America. Their achievements in architecture and art, coupled with their advanced calendar, mathematics, and astronomical systems, attest to their cultural and intellectual prowess.

A Ritualistic Find in Kulubá’s Central Square

These recently discovered knives were found strategically placed to the southwest of Kulubá’s central square. Alfredo Barrera Rubio, an INAH researcher, emphasizes the ritualistic nature of the find. He suggests that “these types of knives were used for sacrifices.”

The knives were discovered adjacent to a stone slab speculated to have been a stage for human and animal sacrifices and perhaps offerings to the gods.

An Offering of Untouched Knives: A Sign of Significance

Upon analysis, Cristian Hernández González, an archaeologist studying the site, revealed these knives had never been utilized. Despite their untouched condition, the significance of these offerings cannot be understated, particularly considering the materials used.

“The offering comprises 16 pieces: three of flint and 13 of obsidian, resources unavailable in the Yucatán peninsula and sourced from distant regions, such as Guatemala and central Mexico,” González noted.

A New Maya City Emerges from the Jungle

Recently, we also reported the discovery of an ancient Maya city veiled within the dense jungles of southern Mexico. This city, situated within the Balamkú ecological reserve in central Campeche state, is studded with large pyramidal structures, suggesting its importance in the Classic period of the Maya civilization (approximately 250-1000 AD), according to archaeologists.