A very interesting site I visited was the sun and moon temples. There are two temples situated opposite each other at the base of a mountain. The Huaca del Sol was dedicated to politics, whilst the other was for religion, Huaca del Luna. At the time of my visit, the Huaca del Sol was still being excavated, but we were shown round the Huaca del Luna, which was quite something.
Built by the Moche people, a civilisation that came before the Inca’s, they believed that the God’s would keep them safe. High priests were the most powerful in society and were trusted to appease the God’s through ritual sacrifice.
These sacrifices were performed in the temple at the base of the mountain. Before death multiple individuals were kept naked, in a small pen at tortured. This picture to the left is of the pen they were kept in.
One at a time, they were then taken to an altar were they were cut in such a way that would force all their blood down the remainder of the mountain to be collected in a cup at the bottom. The cup of blood was the offering.
The way that the temple had been excavated was amazing. You could picture the ceremonies walking around. And the colours (red, white, black, blue, and yellow) were produced purely through minerals and have managed to last 1,500 years.
The architecture itself was impressive also. The temples were made from putting large boulders on top of other large boulders. Each layer being done once the one before it was complete. Technically it shouldn’t have been strong enough to withstand anything but it did!
Though I was very aware of how old the temple was when walking across the infrastructure that could potentially collapse at any moment… Walked across that bit pretty quick.
When natural disasters began to occur more often-floods and earthquakes- people began to question the abilities of the priests.
It seemed they could not pacify the God’s anymore. The faith in the high priests was lost, and with it all of their political power. They, and their temple’s were abandoned and the people moved on to the Huaca del Sol where they began a new society based on agriculture and trade.
I’ve always found ancient civilisation fascinating, the beliefs in God’s and such. However, until that visit when talking about it afterwards it occurred to me that I’d always assumed those beliefs were held by everyone of the time, but what it they weren’t? There must have been people that were sacrificed against their will, and what for? Because some powerful figures claimed that’s the way it had to be in order to keep their loved ones safe… That sounds worryingly familiar.
I guess being Western, I am conditioned to believe that things that aren’t based on fact are whimsical and self indulgent. People’s everyday lives that truly depended on the God’s being pacified were simply misguided, they hadn’t found science yet. If they had, they would be doing crazy things like torturing people to prevent punishment…but then people are still being sacrificed for religion now.
People are still being told there is a need for fear and blood and pain to ensure safety in some societies. Religion and politics still hold hands even now, so really how much have we evolved in 1,500 years?
At least back then the sacrifices were a lot more up front and people generally knew what they were dying for. As a race, are humans conditioned to be this bloodthirsty and power hungry?
I don’t class myself as a religious person but not because I have anything against religion, I’ve just never felt strongly enough about any of the choices on offer. I wasn’t born into it and haven’t yet felt there was anything I wanted to devote myself to in that way. But I wouldn’t call myself an atheist either, because I consider that to also be a choice.
Once you take a stand, you’re effectively saying that everyone that doesn’t agree with you in wrong which is what I find dangerous about religion. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but it’s a shame that some feel those beliefs are worth dying, or killing for.
‘thou shalt not steal! thou shall not kill!- these words were once held to be holy. But I ask you: has the world ever seen better thieves and killers than these holy words?’– Nietzsche