<p><strong>Sacrificial remains of humans and animals, believed to be at least 2,700 years old, have been found in central <a id="ka6k" title="China" href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/china-guide/">China</a>'s <a id="owfv" title="Luoyang city (map)" href="http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/map-machine#s=r&amp;c=34.680856318732765, 112.4435730278492&amp;z=8">Luoyang city (map)</a>, Chinese archaeologists say.<br></strong></p><p>The bones are part of a recently discovered burial complex covering nearly a quarter acre (945 square meters) and containing 14 tombs, a water channel, and 59 pits from the Western Zhou dynasty. (Related: <a id="g041" title="&quot;Ancient Mass Sacrifice, Riches Discovered in China Tomb.&quot;" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/01/080129-china-tomb.html">"Ancient Mass Sacrifice, Riches Discovered in China Tomb."</a>)</p><p>During the Western Zhou period (1100 B.C. to 771 B.C.), the sacrifices of animals—and sometimes humans—to ancestors or deities were a routine part of Chinese culture. The sacrifices were often made to bless houses, said <a id="qcw8" title="David Sena" href="https://webspace.utexas.edu/dms2244/www/">David Sena</a>, a China historian at the University of Texas at Austin.<br><br> "In general, there's been a tendency to describe Western Zhou as a more humanistic period, when the practice of human sacrifices"—which were commonplace during the preceding Shang Dynasty—"were waning," Sena said. <br><br> "But I think the archaeological evidence shows quite clearly that human sacrifices persisted throughout the Zhou period as well."</p><p><em>—Ker Than</em></p>

Ancient Animal Sacrifices

Sacrificial remains of humans and animals, believed to be at least 2,700 years old, have been found in central China's Luoyang city (map), Chinese archaeologists say.

The bones are part of a recently discovered burial complex covering nearly a quarter acre (945 square meters) and containing 14 tombs, a water channel, and 59 pits from the Western Zhou dynasty. (Related: "Ancient Mass Sacrifice, Riches Discovered in China Tomb.")

During the Western Zhou period (1100 B.C. to 771 B.C.), the sacrifices of animals—and sometimes humans—to ancestors or deities were a routine part of Chinese culture. The sacrifices were often made to bless houses, said David Sena, a China historian at the University of Texas at Austin.

"In general, there's been a tendency to describe Western Zhou as a more humanistic period, when the practice of human sacrifices"—which were commonplace during the preceding Shang Dynasty—"were waning," Sena said.

"But I think the archaeological evidence shows quite clearly that human sacrifices persisted throughout the Zhou period as well."

—Ker Than

Photograph from Imaginechina/AP

Photos: Human Sacrifices Found at Ancient China Complex

How better to say "bless this house" than by sacrificing horse or human? A new dig in China sheds light on the ancient practice's beginnings.

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