a ritual of great importance.
invented sometime in the Preclassical Period (2500-100 BCE), probably by the Olmec
likely the ball was hollow with a human skull as the core, encased in rubber.
When the game was over, human sacrifice was performed,
this death was seen as a great gift.
sacrificial victims, offered to the gods, were decapitated, often with their heart cut out.
only high status prisoners of war were sacrificed,
Human sacrifice legitimized and sanctified the elites’ political power. It was done to keep life moving.
It was also seen as a metaphorical parallel to the movements of the cosmos- the regeneration of maize, vegetation and life (seasonality of agriculture.)
it may have been seen as a reenactment of a important mythological story of two Hero Twins that sacrifice themselves to the gods and then go through the underworld, rise back up and get reborn.
a ritual for fertility, for war or even astronomy- the ball can be seen as representing the sun and the tossing of it through the ring can be seen as a reenactment of the daily rise and fall it makes in the sky.
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