Photo: Mexico's Xiximes Tribe Said to Have Been Cannibals, Confirming Claims from Jesuit Missionaries
Archaeologists in Mexico recently discovered that the Xiximes tribe practiced ritualistic cannibalism.
Scientists tested dozens of bones dating back to the year 1425 and concluded that 80 percent of them showed signs of being boiled and cut with stone blades.
Jesuit missionaries’ historical records told of how the Xiximes tribe believed that ingesting the bodies and souls of their enemies and using the cleaned bones in rituals would guarantee the fertility of the grain harvest.
In an interview with National Geographic News, archaeologist Jose Luis Punzo said, the bones prove that cannibalism “was a crucial aspect of their worldview, their identity.”
The results of the archaeological investigation were presented by the INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia or National Institute of Anthropology and History) at the Archaeology Conference of the North Frontier earlier this year in Paquimé, Mexico.
According to the INAH research, the Xiximes cannibalistic ways and bone carving were intertwined with their planting and sowing habits.
Xiximes warriors were sent out after every corn harvest to hunt their enemies. They would often pluck men from other villages with they worked in the fields. On other occasions, the Xiximes warriors would engage in small battles. After each encounter, the warriors would bring the bodies of their victims back to the village where they would be torn apart at the joints, with extra care taken to ensure the bones were not broken. Body parts were then cooked in pans until the bones were free on flesh and blood. The bones were then removed and stored, and the flesh was cooked with beans and corn and eaten like a soup.
This “soup” was the meal involved in the village ritual which also included dancing and singing, the Jesuit missionaries wrote, leading them to call the Xiximes “the wildest and most barbarian people of the new world,” Punzo said.
At the start of the next harvest season, the bones were hung from trees as an offering to the spirits, who the Xiximes believed would bless their crops.
The bones found at the INAH site called Cueva del Maguey in Durango, Mexico.