WI: No Human Sacrifice in Mesoamerica

Human Sacrifice has always been an important practice for the peoples of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, going back all the way to the Olmecs and possibly earlier throughout the early farming cultures in the region. What if the practice never became part of the religions of the Mesoamerican peoples, or was phased out relatively early? How would it affect the culture, history, and religion of these peoples?
 
Human sacrifice has been part of many ancient religions worldwide. Part of why it stayed prevalent in Meso-America instead of being phased out like elsewhere is a lack of domesticated animals. While human sacrifice was still an occasional thing in many old world societies, most sacrifices were animals. Additionally, sacrificed people were often cannibalized, used as meat for consumption by the priests and nobility, which would have been less in demand if they had animals. I guess the solution would be for them to keep more peccaries and turkeys and perhaps use those for sacrifice, and perhaps somehow get llamas and alpacas to move north.
 
Cortez would have gotten less help from locals (no flower wars) and probably have died delaying the invasion of middle america, if the deseases still reached the Inca's like OTL the civil war (all thedirect line of succesion died) would have been over and they might actualy have started recovering. (that or a wars plague would have hit them)
 
Well. I imagine that...
Wait. No Flower wars.

Hold on. No ritualised Combat.
Practical combat.NOOOO. No that's to cool. Could we see Phalanxes and Massed Troop formations? Maybe and end of the rediculas 'Warrior Combat'?
 
Cortez would have gotten less help from locals (no flower wars) and probably have died delaying the invasion of middle america, if the deseases still reached the Inca's like OTL the civil war (all thedirect line of succesion died) would have been over and they might actualy have started recovering. (that or a wars plague would have hit them)
There would be no Triple Alliance for Cortes to meet.
Their entire political structure and success was closely tied to the religious system that required human sacrifice.
 
Additionally, sacrificed people were often cannibalized, used as meat for consumption by the priests and nobility, which would have been less in demand if they had animals.
Protein deficiency is an old myth disproved by more recent scholarship and evidence, and cannibalism was for ritual purposes, not to provide meat to the nobility.
 
Cortez would have gotten less help from locals (no flower wars) and probably have died delaying the invasion of middle america, if the deseases still reached the Inca's like OTL the civil war (all thedirect line of succesion died) would have been over and they might actualy have started recovering. (that or a wars plague would have hit them)
The entire social, religious,and political structure of Mesoamerican society would be completely and utterly changed from the get go, the Aztecs are butterflied away, we don't know what Cortez would find in ITTL.
 
The entire social, religious,and political structure of Mesoamerican society would be completely and utterly changed from the get go, the Aztecs are butterflied away, we don't know what Cortez would find in ITTL.
poor soil and advanced primitives closer to the Inca's I presume altough even they performed human sacrifices. probably advanced enough to send missionaries coupling cristianization with Agricultural techniques, probably a better future for everyone. At worst like western africa where europeans trade for slaves that are used in south america and north america. With "mexico" only getting settled at the scramble for africa period. Thanking it's continued existance by beeing a buffer between a spanish, protugese dominated south and a French english dominated north.
This would prevent the manila galeon route from happening (it would be aztec control) but the belgian lowlands where part of spain, imagen this way Merchants come into contact establish Acapulco and use aztecs and maybe japanese sailors to make profit with the aztecs taking a part of the profit. (it goes ASB from here) but the spanish would have less control in south east asia for sure.
And a story could be worked out where this happens I think
 
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Human sacrifice has been part of many ancient religions worldwide. Part of why it stayed prevalent in Meso-America instead of being phased out like elsewhere is a lack of domesticated animals. While human sacrifice was still an occasional thing in many old world societies, most sacrifices were animals. Additionally, sacrificed people were often cannibalized, used as meat for consumption by the priests and nobility, which would have been less in demand if they had animals. I guess the solution would be for them to keep more peccaries and turkeys and perhaps use those for sacrifice, and perhaps somehow get llamas and alpacas to move north.
I disagree. In very advanced cultures, with largescale usage of ritual animal sacrifice, also practiced human sacrifice or was practiced to a minor degree. Celtic, Germanic, Chinese, Slavic, Scythian and cultural areas or complexes all practiced human sacrifice alongside animal sacrifice. The commonality of these customs decreased over time for many reasons, mostly due to the dissemination of Buddhism, Roman 'civility,' Christianity or the destruction of said people and their customs and integration into a newer people (Scythians).

It would seem that the advanced nature of human sacrifice in Mesoamerica speaks in my view, more toward the complexity of their society and the importance of certain conceptions of sacrifice which are embedded in myths. It would seem that at some point and has been theorized, that a tradition of votive sacrifices that were extensive existed in Mesoamerica in the ancient past and these were used to quell the anger of the gods as seen through the disasters that are theorized to befell the peoples of the region, famine, volcanoes, hurricanes and so forth. In this scheme, votive offerings were seen to fail at assuaging these tempests and disasters. As such, a series of innovations of votive offerings occurred, wherein the scale and or urgency of the danger required the usage of human sacrifice, which was argued to be a mimicry of the gifting of blood by the gods unto the earth for its sustenance. And thus, likened to the gods who slew themselves for the sustenance of man, so too must man slay himself for the sustenance of others.

The same sort of reasoning was at work in many cultures, where urgency necessitated innovations in offerings, wherein excessive dangers required the sacrifice of otherwise unthinkable objects. In Carthage, this meant the sacrifice of noble children. In evidences gleamed now from the sites along Northern Africa, much speech of the Romans and their predecessors was proven correct regarding sacrifice of children in Carthage and nearby Punic sites. Seemingly, noble children or otherwise wealthy children were ritually burned and then their ashes treated with extreme care. These moments of sacrifice were invoked in times of especial chaos and turmoil, namely defeats in wars, famines, invasions and so forth.

In similar situations, we find human sacrifice across Europe outside the Hellenic sphere. Celtic human sacrifice certainly did exist, however the exact reasons are somewhat muddied. In most cases, captives of war were sacrificed, that is human sacrifice was a sort of dominance activity. Enemies defeated in a bout were executed, their execution repurposed as a form of votive offering to the gods. Other forms of human sacrifice also existed in the form of the supposed noble sacrifice, wherein, a king or noble was deposed of his kingship and then sacrificed to the gods. An example of this in Ireland exposes a massive 2 meter noble or king ritually murdered/sacrificed and then dumped into a grave. In Germanic cultures, we know of human sacrifice as the sacrifice of slaves in votive offerings for special occasions and of the sacrifice of a king due to failure in war. The Germanic method of sacrificing slaves in votive offerings may be related closely to the inferred notion within Scythian society, wherein slaves were seen as true chattel and thus similar to cattle or anything else. Chattel of all kinds, were taken to have great value and offerings to the gods were stressed in your sincerity by the value of your offering, which often meant that humans could be the most prized sacrifice and alongside jewelry, clothing, ornaments and cattle, etc, comprised a set of important offerings to the gods.

In China, the human sacrifice seems to have been similar in that it stressed a greater importance of the votive offering. A major example that struck me is from the Chinese epic literature, wherein certain heroes upon defeating vaunted foes or of evil foes, present the heads of their dead foes as offerings to a particular local god. Likewise, the sacrifice of a Qin soldier by king Xiang of the state of Han for the supposed slaying of his son to the 'ancestors.' As such, humans acted as an offering which stressed to an utmost level, the sincerity of the offering. Human sacrifice permitted the supplicant to both stress his sincerity by the supposed value of humans and yet also display a sense of prowess and strength over the humans whom he defeated. Thus, in certain cases, human sacrifice may be taken as a very nuanced and complex system of social interaction, which is often lost when one sees the practice as simply evidence of crude primeval savagery.

We also know of human sacrifice as existing in the societies of Copper Age and Bronze Age Europe, alongside many other practices. These however, are somewhat obscure and are still in discussion as we speak and perhaps another discussion may be had on this later.

A further point also, the definition of human sacrifice is a bit lacking. In many societies human sacrifice may be argued to have existed but in more nuanced ways. Case in point, the Assyrian empire did not have an explicit model of offering humans as votive offerings to the Great Gods, however, it can be argued that they did do human sacrifice. Assyrian kings in their acts of war and punishment, consecrated acts of brutality and mass murder as religious rites and as righteous service to the Great Gods. Assurnasirpal II praises his burning of children and others in Syria as a holy act, a punishment for their sins. Likewise, the traditional series of Akkadian punishments for sins were that of ritual murder through the flaying of the skin and then followed by burning, all of which were rendered as holy acts of devotion to Nurgle. Another point to drive this home is the massive splendor that came with ritual killings of this matter, namely the murder of rebels under Assurbanipal, wherein the defeated were paraded across the street and according to the texts, the defeated rebels, were placed upon an altar and cut into pieces as if a lamb set for offering. This was a definite religious act, the people in the city had amassed for the event and praises were made to the Gods for the victory and the punishment was distributed in lieu of the Great Gods, who distributed the punishment of sins to the Akkadian civilization of Mesopotamia.

In the same light, as other have discussed, the Roman empire and its ritual murder of dissidents in the arenas before the common people in helpless defenses against set upon wild beasts or superior armed warriors, might be termed human sacrifice as well. The effect is the same regardless, a people whose worries exist, are assuaged through the spilling of blood which characterizes and emphasizes the sincerity of the ruling class. So too was the case for most Mesoamerican societies. Their human sacrificing amounted to a complex system of display of sincerity on the part of the ruling populace and as part of an overall cult of sacrifice for the sustenance of others which is the foremost mythical root in Mesoamerican cultures, at least in the Valley of Mexico beyond the jungles inhabited by the Zapotec and their eastern neighbors of the Maya.
 
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Here is a relatively late POD which leads to a different development of the Aztec Empire. Nezahualcoyotl manages to establish a new monotheistic religion based on his experience of an "Unknown, Unknowable Lord of Everywhere". This religion banned all blood sacrifices and encourage science, art and philosophy as vocations due in part to the example of Nazahualcoyotl as a philosopher king.
 
The entire social, religious,and political structure of Mesoamerican society would be completely and utterly changed from the get go, the Aztecs are butterflied away, we don't know what Cortez would find in ITTL.
This. Even if human sacrifice (or at least bloodshed) isn’t an inherent feature of the precolumbian Mesoamerican socioeconomic system - and I would argue it is - the “butterflies” of this change from the Olmecs all the way to Cortes would make Mesoamerican society totally unrecognisable.
 
better warfare, As I have mentioned before. I also imagine that without human sacrifice, the warfare would be no longer about obtaining VAST amounts of sacrificial slaves, but towards obtaining land, money and prestige.
 
Here is a relatively late POD which leads to a different development of the Aztec Empire. Nezahualcoyotl manages to establish a new monotheistic religion based on his experience of an "Unknown, Unknowable Lord of Everywhere". This religion banned all blood sacrifices and encourage science, art and philosophy as vocations due in part to the example of Nazahualcoyotl as a philosopher king.
This would likely cause the collapse of the Triple Alliance to internal strife (most likely a Texcoco vs. Tenochtitlan situation) and a chequered political landscape in Mesoamerica, with many polities adopting the new faith and others sticking to the older pantheon and clinging to human sacrifice, by the time the Europeans arrive in force.
This would obviously greatly change the context of the Conquest.
Christians would find many appealing things in the New Faith doctrines, and the likes of Las Casas would probably have an easy time in painting it as an anticipation of Christianity itself; the theories about the natural inferiority of American Natives suggested by people like Sepulveda would be a far harder sell.
This might easily backfire, though, as soon as monotheist Mesoamericans show stubborn refusal to submit to the Iberian power, and/or to convert to Christianity (which may smack of the old belief they used to oppose to them: Christian dogma does involve blood sacrifice, after all, even though only in metaforical terms, and IOTL Las Casas himself pointed this out as a something Mesoamerican religion and Christianity had in common).
 
Here is a relatively late POD which leads to a different development of the Aztec Empire. Nezahualcoyotl manages to establish a new monotheistic religion based on his experience of an "Unknown, Unknowable Lord of Everywhere". This religion banned all blood sacrifices and encourage science, art and philosophy as vocations due in part to the example of Nazahualcoyotl as a philosopher king.
That is quiet too late IMO. It is not easy change centuries/millenia years habits. If such person would had lived during highest zenith of Maya Civilisation this would had worked. But even if Nezahualcoyotl would had been more succesful that would had caused civil war or at least the tlaotani's assassination. Changing old religions is pretty hard thing.
 
This might easily backfire, though, as soon as monotheist Mesoamericans show stubborn refusal to submit to the Iberian power, and/or to convert to Christianity (which may smack of the old belief they used to oppose to them: Christian dogma does involve blood sacrifice, after all, even though only in metaforical terms, and IOTL Las Casas himself pointed this out as a something Mesoamerican religion and Christianity had in common).
Christianity combinend with Agricultural techniques. Afther a couple of skirmishes and the potential to introduce horses and guns especialy a monotheistic culture would accept christianity. The aztecs could read and write in their own letters, they might send a message to the pope in rome delivered by rivals of spain (most probably portugal. Paying a certain amount of silver to have the letters delivered and to recieve a response would probably do the trick). If the popes writes a bull that christians can't be enslaved. Also this would be afther the treaty of tordesillas. France could use it as a pretext to call the treaty void.
 
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