The Ecological Basis for Aztec Sacrifice:

Michael Harner

The Aztec emphasis on ritualized human sacrifice and the sheer quantities of victims involved have long been recognized as apparent extremes of cultural behavior in the world ethnographic record. This paper proposes an ecological and evolutionary theory to explain why the peculiar development of the Aztec sacrificial complex was a natural consequence of concrete subsistence problems that were distinctive to Mesoamerica, and especially to the Valley of Mexico.