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Why Ancient German Bourgeois Ate People?

Why Ancient German Bourgeois Ate People?

On a place of the ancient German settlement which runs 7 thousand years archeologists found out remains of almost 500 human bodies which became victims of cannibals. Even children and embryos were among them. December issue of magazine Antiquity writes about it.


Ceremonies of cannibals were carried out on the place of ancient settlement under the name Herzhaim (it is located in the territory of modern Southern Germany) where slaves, prisoners of war and others were took. According to the authors of research - anthropologists from University of Bordeaux in France - severe customs can be explained by social and political crisis in the central Europe in neolith epoch. The head of the research Bruno Bolestin in interview to BBC said that he and his colleagues found out signs of that human bones were deliberately pricked and split up that put the thought about cannibalism into the mind of scientists.

Researchers established that for the short period of time hundreds people which were treated not better, than animals were eaten in the settlement. Eaten away bones were dumped into deep holes of the oval form.

Excavation in Herzhaim were carried out for the first time in 1996, however, the finds found there were studied more detailed between 2005 and 2008 years. However not all archeologists agree with the theory of cannibalism. For example, scientists from the Leipzig University and the Museum of Natural History in Frankfurt am Main assert that reinterment of dead took place in Herzhaim, bodies were cut into pieces and flesh was separated from the bones. Similar rituals existed in many ancient civilisations.

In favour of a reinterment hypothesis says the fact that turtles have no lower jaw. Ritual demanded that it should be separated from a skull and buried separately, GZT.RU writes.

However Bolestin asserts that the remains found testify about cannibalism. In particular, deliberately broken phalanxes of fingers on the hands and feet were eaten out, feathers were broken off from a backbone obviously by means of special technique, scratches and cuts on jaws testified that the tongues of victims were cut out.

The scientist considers that 7 thousand years ago there were presumably three settlements in Europe where cannibals lived. More or less reliably cannibalism is proved only in ancient cave in the south of France. There are there picked bones 6 thousand-years-old. The research carried out in 1986 showed that in at least six persons and animals were killed and eaten in the cave.

From editorial board: Actually modern anthropology quite confidently considers that cannibalism was at a certain historical stage endemic to all people and all cultures. As there was slave-owning, serfdom, monarchy, private property, polygamous marriages, death penalty and so on. Gradually these things were got rid of, in one cultures it occurred earlier, in others later, in some exist till now. We will say, many missionaries finished their mission in stomachs of newly-converted.


Cannibalism was endemic to дионисийским to cults of Ancient Greece, to the cults of the Near East, later to Aztecs. On Fiji Islands cannibalism was forbidden by law only in 19th century.


Cannibalism is present in fairy tales and bylinas of Eastern Slavs - such characters, as Baba-Yaga, Koshchei Immortal, Zmej Gorynych often eat human flesh. All of them originate from an Old Slavic pagan pantheon, thus it's possible to draw a conclusion that there could be ritual cannibalism in Slavic paganism in historically late time and it stopped, probably, with final introduction of Orthodoxy. Though who can guarantee that it ended for sure? Judging by periodically appearing messages in mass-media about cases of cannibalism among neopagans - it didn't stopped.


The same about Germany - if to look at the German fairy tales, cannibal is present very often in them, it's negative character but completely not archaic - he lives in the castle, wears boots and normal clothes, differs from usual people only by large sizes and, naturally, propensity to eat the neighbour. Analyzing the German folklore it is possible to assume that here vestiges of cannibalism stayed longer, than in other parts of Europe. 

But in any case cannibalism today is obviously the stage of development passed by mankind. Just as slave-owning which last vestiges can be met among not developed people and even on the Caucasus but in general it is possible to consider that slavery is everywhere condemned practice.

Sooner or later but private property on means of production and as its consequence - exploitation of person by person becomes so indecent business, as eating neighbor or slave-owning. It is a natural trend in the development of homo sapiens.

I do not doubt that many cannibals clung to the dying off habit, spoke about high gustatory sense value of human flesh, about morals in preservation of ancient traditions of cannibalism.

We can read about apologia of slave-owning in books of late Roman authors, for example, Apulej.

There was written a lot about salutariness of the imperial power for Russia.

The same way we read now liberal thinkers about advantage of withdrawal of "excessive" surplus value from "unreasonable" workers, about the blessing which "strong owner" could do. And so on...

It is necessary to understand that all this - remains of animal condition which homo sapiens leave throughout all history. Flesh eating aiming to seize the energy containing in meat of the neighbour and consumption of another's labour, another's energy is, as a matter of fact, the same process. Other process takes place in parallel with it - process of getting rid of animal beginning in a man.

Аnatoly Baranov

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