Al-Kadada evidence for 5,500 year old human sacrifice

This is a site in the vicinity of Meroe in the Sudan, and seem to date to a period of transition between foraging and farming. From The Telegraph:

In a graveyard in Al-Kadada, north of Khartoum, the archaeologists have dug up the tomb of a man and a woman facing each other in a ditch, with bodies of two women, two goats and a dog buried nearby.

The discovery of the group “confirms” excavations last year which found traces of the oldest human sacrifice ever identified in Africa, Jacques Reinold, a researcher for the French section of the Sudanese antiquities department, said.

What do you think about the interpretations being offered? Do you think that the earliest archaeological evidence of “human sacrifice” is likely to be one of the first instances of such behavior? What are the alternative interpretations of this find?


Photo is of rock art from Tadrart Acacus in Ghat District of western Libya, in the Sahara, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating to between about 12,000 and 1,900 years ago.

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3 thoughts on “Al-Kadada evidence for 5,500 year old human sacrifice

  1. Note: This is not new. But no, I did not commit the Mortal Internet Sin of only paying attention to things that happened within the last 12 hours! This is posted for another reason that will become clear in due time.

  2. The video cites no evidence for human sacrifice – no cut marks on bone, no broken necks, no evidence of any kind. Only an archaeologist’s speculation that some buried people were “sacrificed”, based on their burial positions.

    This is way too typical of archaeology – there is no way to know what all this meant to the people involved, or whether or not the people were killed and buried to accompany a high status person into death.

    This is also way too typical of journalism – this barely mentions that the conclusions are totally speculative, and then the rest of the piece is written as if the ‘sacrifice’ is true and proven.

  3. As for alternate interpretations – it could be the burial of attendees at a potluck who died from a particularly virulent bout of food poisoning, or it could be the burial of several community members who died of flu, or . . .

    All that is certain is that they died, and they were buried.

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