Sacrificing human lives: ritual sacrificial landscapes and politics in the prehistoric Aegean, Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean.
The Ph.D. focuses on the archaeological data for human sacrifice in the Aegean, Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean. The symbolic sacrificial ritual is examined in terms of ideological, social and political agendas such as displays of power, negotiation of identities and social bonding. Trends and elements, social contexts and perception shared by the Mediterranean cultures (ethnically, socially, geographically) are explored during the 3rd and 2nd millennium B.C.
Motivations for human sacrifice are explained from various perspectives: the sociopolitical benefits gained by elite hosts and the ideological, cultural, or locally unique factors that motivate community members and victims of sacrifice to participate. A political economic framework is employed to investigate how human sacrifice was practiced and why it was ultimately banned. Human sacrifice rites can be regarded as public ritual goods supplied by elite hosts and consumed by the public at large. On a regional scale, the supply of human sacrifice was maintained by an oligopolistic market structure, which shaped sociopolitical relations among royalty, elites, and communities. Rising costs of human sacrifice and an opportunistic strategy of the central government to monopolize the religious market brought about the illegalization of human sacrifice followed by the adoption of “humanism” as a “state religion”.