Many of the finds from ancient cultures are discovered in burial sites.
As we discussed in comments last week, there are significant finds associated with the discoveries of tombs and their treasures, and some of the rituals are being understood from writings, but much we can only conjecture about.
One of the great finds in Belize was unearthed in a burial site at Altun Ha, outside Belize City, the jade skull. It is a large carved head, from an intensely colored stone, and was situated in the grave of a middle aged man assumed to be a ruler there. There were other items found in the grave as well, and all are evidently meant to accompany this revered person in his death. Many graves contain bodies that have had a jade carved item inserted into the mouth, and this custom is known as giving the ‘breath of life’, as jade is associated with life and health.
Some of the offerings found at graves unearthed at other sites include carved shells from Caddo Mounds, and in Croatia much jewelry and carving, among others. The reason for interring precious objects with the dead has acquired a lot of speculation, but we have no really solid knowledge. The findings for our culture today are of course of immense value, but this was hardly the reason the past cultures embedded them.
The graves at Blue Creek contained the fourth largest find of jade in this continent, associated with ritual offerings that have come to be known as the ‘collapse’ of Mayan society and include many broken ceramic vessels which were interred with last rulers of the generation. The ‘termination’ of the epoch of those families is evidenced in many locations throughout the region, and indicates a cataclysm for that ruling family. In some locations the remains of human beings have been found that show they were in a way offered, sacrificed, for the sake of the ritual being performed.
As I am presently traveling and am not able to access the internet, this post will have to be completed later when I can do so.