An Ancient Site In Spain Was Repeatedly Used For Mass Animal Sacrifices About 2,500 Years Ago, And Now, Researchers Have Learned That The Sacrifices Were Just One Part Of A Series Of Rituals

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Around 2,500 years ago, an ancient site in southwestern Spain was repeatedly used for mass animal sacrifices. The sacrificial rituals occurred at Casas del Turuñuelo, a large building from the Iron Age located in the Badajoz province.

The Tartessian culture, an early Iron Age civilization, is associated with the structure. The civilization thrived between the ninth and fifth centuries B.C. before disappearing suddenly and mysteriously.

In 2017, archaeologists uncovered more than 6,700 animal bones in the courtyard of Casas del Turuñuelo.

The bones belonged to 52 different animals, which were identified as horses, cattle, pigs, and one dog. The collection of bones was primarily made up of adult horses.

After conducting an analysis of the remains of the animals, researchers have found that the animal sacrifices were part of a series of rituals performed in three phases rather than a single event.

The rituals took place toward the end of the fifth century, which was also when the building had been purposefully destroyed, buried underneath a 20-foot mound of earth, and abandoned promptly afterward. The arrangement of the animal bones also demonstrated how the sacrifices were carried out.

In the first two phases, it appeared that the animals had simply been killed and buried with their skeletons left mostly intact.

But in the third phase, the remains had been tampered with, showing signs of having their meat removed before being buried.

This indicated that the final mass sacrifice was marked with a ceremonial meal or banquet of some sort.

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