Be the most informed person in the room with Newsy's free e-newsletter

View our privacy policy:
Obama's Final Days As President
Featured Series: Obama's Final Days As President
President Obama's days as Commander in Chief are numbered, but that hasn't stopped him from making some last-minute moves.  

Can Inequality Be Traced To Ritualistic Killings?

A new study found human sacrifices were strongly linked to the growth of civilizations –– especially ones with rigid class systems.

New research says human sacrifices were strongly linked to the growth of civilizations, at least unequal ones.

The study, published in the journal Nature this month, traced family trees and found connections among a number of groups in the Pacific. Some groups had fairly equal class systems, while others split citizens into regimented groups economically and socially. 

Historically, human sacrifice could be used to signal the start of wars, to end diseases, when leaders died and more.

Almost half of the 93 cultures studied showed signs of human sacrifice. But only 25 percent of the societies that had fairly equal class systems practiced it, compared to two-thirds of highly stratified societies.

What's more, those sacrificed were largely members of the lower classes. 

Some have said the study states the obvious, but others argue it's unclear whether the findings can be extended to history outside the Pacific. 

Most major religions ban human sacrifice, so it's difficult to say how much the ancient practice led to any social and economic systems seen today. 

However, the researchers in this latest study argue human sacrifice played a key part in small societies transitioning into larger ones. And once societies became stratified, human sacrifice helped them stay unequal. 

This video includes clips from the History ChannelNational GeographicRT and images from Getty Images and Lawrence OP / CC BY 2.0.

Featured Stories
Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell in "A Night at the Roxbury."

When It Comes To Numbers For Women In Film, It Might As Well Be 1998

Candles are lit during a vigil for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando.

FBI Officials Arrested The Wife Of The Orlando Nightclub Shooter

A man walks through the European Parliament

Election Of Top EU Official Gets Little Attention Before Vote

Want to see more stories like this?
Like Newsy on Facebook for More Sci/Health Coverage