Specifically, I mean human sacrifices of their own members (not outside members or prisoners). After watching a chilling movie related to the topic I started thinking more about human sacrifice and after looking around for a good bit I could only find examples of human sacrifice being practiced in settled societies.

Is it possible that ideologies of human sacrifice only develop in larger settlements or are there examples of foraging/hunter-gatherer societies that practice it as well?

  • Hi and welcome to M&F SE, please take some time to take our tour. An answer to the title should be linked in this question. Maybe you should change to title to your ending question, aka: Are there examples of foraging/hunter-gatherer societies that practice human sacrifice
    – Calaom
    Jul 25, 2019 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


To start with your second question, there are some indications that stone age humans were carrying out human sacrifice, though not entirely conclusive.

In contrast, a lot of evidence of human sacrifice has been found for the neolithic era, at the beginning phase of human settling. This predates larger settlements but is generally found for human groups that had abaondoned their hunter-gathering in favor of agriculture.

What changed when settlements turned into larger, organized societies is that human sacrifice became a way to legitimize (religious) authority and class systems. The study in the link provides an analysis of the connection between the rise of organized religions and human sacrifice in particular.

  • So it doesn't seem there's much evidence for human sacrifice in pre-settled societies? I'm still going through your links, but my hunch before asking this is that human sacrifice was an ideology that would develop around social hierarchies and not in small bands/tribes/communes as is often portrayed in media. Thank you
    – tr3ndyBEAR
    Jul 26, 2019 at 16:55

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