An ancient arrowhead with human blood on it points to a Maya bloodletting ceremony in which a person’s “life force” fed the gods, two researchers say.
The ceremony took place around 500 years ago in Guatemala at a temple at the site of Zacpetén. During the ceremony someone was cut open — possibly through the earlobes, tongue or genitals — with an arrowhead made of obsidian (a volcanic glass), and their blood was spilled.
The Maya believed that each person had a “life force” and that bloodletting allowed this life force to nourish the gods. “The general consensus (among scholars) is that bloodletting was ‘feeding’ the gods with the human essential life force,” said Prudence Rice, a professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.