>How do they _know_ that this defleshing is anything to do with religious
>practices? I recognise that it _could_ relate to religious practice, but
>this seems like whistling in the wind to me. Where's the evidence for this
>reconstruction? Is all modern cannibalism religiously linked? Has all
>cannibalism always been religiously linked? Nice theory, but really...
All modern defleshing practices are linked to religious beliefs.
"From our Western perspective, we might be tempted to view other
examples of Neandertal's treatment of the dead as ghoulish. For example,
there's the lad from a shallow grave in Teshik-Tash, Russia, whose remains were
surrounded by numerous pairs of goat horns. An equally intriguing find emerged
with the discovery of a cave that had been closed for many thousands of years
in Monte Circeo Italy. Within the cave, a Neandertal skull was found resting
bottom up in the middle of a circle of rocks. The base of the skull was broken
away as if the brains had been deliberately removed. NOr was this the first
sign of a possible cannibalistic ceremony in the fossil record! Perhaps as
long ago as half a million years, Homo erectus had acquired the unsavory habit
of breaking into the braincases of his dead brethren.
"Although the reader may flinch at the suggestion that cannibalism
indicates higher cognitive abilities, historical records indicate that
cannibalism practiced by Homo sapiens in the late nineteenth and first half of
the twentieth centuries served ceremonial more than nutritive purposes."~Dean
Falk, Braindance,(New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1992), p. 181-182
Also, if this was not cannibalism, then it was defleshing of human bones
which is a widespread primitive mortuary practice. In other words a burial
ritual. The Yukaghirs of Siberia among many others engaged in this practice.
"When the chieftain of a Yukaghir tribe died, the flesh was stripped from
his corpse with bone knives and dried in the sun. to avoid physical contact
with the dead man, the Yukaghir wore gloves and masked their faces. The
flesh was put into a sack and hung on stakes or deposited in a tree some
feet above the ground. The Yukaghirs then distributed the dead chief's
bones among his relatives, who wore them as amulets and consulted them
whenever an important problem came up for discussion. The head itself passed
into the possession of the tribe's oldest member." Ivars Lissner, Man, God
and Magic, 1961, p. 169
Now, the first fact is that animals do not use tools to deflesh their fellow
critters. Only humans do this. And when they do it, it is either
cannibalism or a burial practice. Both of these strongly imply a spiritual
If you can find an example of an animal that uses tools to cut the flesh off
their dead I would say you have a point. As it stands, only humans do this
and this is the earliest evidence of this practice being carried out.
Foundation, Fall and Flood