Dog Names That Start With O – From The Ordinary To The Outrageous
From the ordinary to the outrageous: What’s your favorite animal?”
It seems like every day there are new discoveries about animals. Some of them are really strange and some of them might even seem unbelievable. But they’re true!
For example, what do you think happens when a human dies?
They go to heaven or hell according to their beliefs.
Well, what if they went to hell instead? And what would happen then? Would they be punished forever or could they return from there?
Well, it turns out that such questions were asked by ancient civilizations all over the world. One of those cultures was the Egyptians.
So far so good; but how did they die anyway? How come their bodies didn’t decompose into dust after death?
The answer is simple: they had no concept of death. The Egyptians believed that everything was eternal and nothing existed except the gods. Everything else was just illusion created by these deities. Therefore, it made sense that their dead remained alive forever.
Of course, this idea wasn’t popular among everyone because it seemed too idealistic at first glance.
But who said the Egyptians were idealists?
The opposite was true, in fact: they were very practical people. In time, the dead would join the eternal gods and everything would change forever.
Death & Afterlife in the Old Kingdom
Ancient Egypt was a patriarchal society ruled by a king who owed his power to the blessing of the gods. The king was considered the son of god (Re) on Earth and the religious capital, Memphis, was a sort of “holy city” where only royalty could enter.
In such a strictly hierarchical society, it’s no surprise that the lower classes had no idea what was going on in the afterlife. Most of them believed in a vague concept of an afterlife, but just like today people didn’t want to dwell on their own mortality. As such, they focused on the present and left their future to Re and the pantheon of gods.
The most famous theory is that of Osiris, god of the dead and afterlife. His legend is so important that it has been retold in hundreds of variations and appears in the oldest existing manuscripts from ancient Egypt. It starts with him getting killed by his evil brother Set who wanted his throne:
Reeling from this betrayal, Osiris’s son Horus sought revenge. He managed to beat up Set, tearing him apart and cutting of his genitalia. After throwing them in the river, they were eaten by a fish (what a surprise!):
Horus later became king and ruled for many years. Meanwhile, Set got his revenge on the whole world by infecting it with “evil”, except his own territory of course. When Horus died, he became a god in the sky and got his eye replaced with a glowing solar orb (the sun!).
Later he judged the dead souls and allowed them into paradise.
This legend created the blueprint for an afterlife that would be followed by most civilizations for centuries to come.
The most important part was the “weighing of the heart” ritual. When a Pharaoh died (or any important person, but no one lower than that), they were mummified and placed in a coffin decorated with hieroglyphs to help them enter the afterlife. Inside the coffin there was a “heart scarab” (a sort of amulet in the shape of a scarab beetle) that was inscribed with magical words to protect the mummy and the heart of the deceased.
At some point during the funeral, a priest would open the coffin, remove the heart of the dead and place it on a scale which was held in his other hand. The heart would be balanced against the weight of a feather, symbolizing Ma’at (another important goddess in Egyptian mythology). If the heart was as light as the feather, the person’s soul was worthy and could enter paradise.
If not, it was fed to Ammit the Devourer and they were damned to remain dead forever.
There were two types of afterlife that you could qualify for: bika and alagadda. The first one was reserved for people who died in battle, of old age or naturally. They had to sail down the river into the underworld and were judged by Osiris, but getting a good score allowed them to enjoy the delights of paradise.
The alagadda afterlife was mainly for people who died unnatural deaths: drowned, died of disease or were murdered. They got no judgement from Osiris and went straight to purgatory where they atoned for their sins before getting into paradise.
The most famous example of this theory was the “Mummy” movies, which became very popular in the 20th century thanks to movies like “The Mummy” (1999) or the famous Brendan Fraser trilogy in the early 2000s. In all these movies, people are revived from death using ancient magic and try to bring back their lost loves. There are also many video games with the same “kill monsters and save a damsel in distress” premise, like the Alone in the Dark games (some of which take place in Egypt) or the Castlevania series.
4. The Aztecs and Human Sacrifice
In the Nahuatl language (spoken by the Aztecs), “Mexitli” means “Between Two Ramparts”, which is referring to the physical landscape of Lake Texcoco, where Tenochtitlan (the Aztec capital) was built between two mountains and a lake.
The Aztecs were a Triple Alliance of three cities (Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan) ruled by a common king. Considering that they controlled only 1/5th of the entire population at best (and most of them were subject tribes with their own rulers), their empire was amazing.
They called themselves “Mexica” (or “Meh-shee-ka” according to modern pronunciation) and their kingdom “Aztlan” (Which translates to “Between the sands”), both names obviously taking precedence over the later “Aztecs” which was coined by a Spanish Conquistador. (A very interesting fact, considering how most people associate the term “Aztec” with the Empire)
The Aztecs have been often labeled as vicious barbarians who tortured people for the sheer amusement of it, but this is far from true.
Primarily, human sacrifice was mostly reserved for very important people, namely nobles or anyone who significantly contributed to the Empire. Also, it wasn’t a case of grabbing the closest victim and cutting their hearts out, but rather a long, elaborate ritual only performed when the deities demanded a new sacrifice.
The most important victim was the “Tlatoani” (meaning “Voice of the People”) who was the King of Tenochtitlan, chosen by the gods themselves. He would be taken to a special temple and asked whether he had the courage to face death. If he said yes, he would have his heart cut out through his back while priests tore out his eyes and cut off his limbs.
The next in line was the high priest, who would be strangled to death and drowned in a giant basin filled with snakes.
All other sacrifices had their hearts cut out, starting with the closest family of the King and followed by the most important nobles. Warriors captured from enemy tribes would come next, then citizens chosen by lottery, and finally slaves. This type of ritual was generally only reserved for special celebrations such as the completion of a particularly important building or the birth of a royal child.
Otherwise, the Empire’s citizens were mostly fed and happy.
Human sacrifice was always a “Give and Take” situation: People from all over the Empire would give gifts (ranging from precious stones to slaves) to the Aztecs in exchange for their help in a time of need. For example, if a farmer’s family had nothing to give, then they could get something regardless through this system. Other than this, most people lived their lives in relative peace.
As for the human flesh eating stories, it’s true that cannibalism did indeed take place during certain rituals (such as sacrificial ones) but not on a regular scale (certain tribes in Africa actually engaged in this on a daily basis though), and not just humans either: The Aztecs also ate dogs, turkeys, frogs, deer, snakes, mice, etc. Some people even captured creatures from the lake and boiled them alive just to watch them suffer before eating them.
It’s apparent that the Aztecs were much less bloodthirsty than most people give them credit for. But this isn’t even the reason why they’re so reviled in history.
In 1519, a man named Hernan Cortes arrived on the coast of Mexico with eleven ships, 400 men and 16 horses. He was looking for new land under the assumption that he had reached the East coast of Asia. When he arrived, he befriended some of the local tribes, took advantage of civil wars going on in the region and conquered much of the land using guns, steel armor and horses.
The Aztecs probably could have held off his attacks if they hadn’t just gone through a stressful civil war themselves. They were wary of the strange white men with weapons they had never seen before (especially the cannon). The Emperor, Montezuma, probably thought they were gods.
When the Emperor didn’t comply with all of their requests, Cortes had him tortured and killed. This sent shockwaves throughout the Empire: The newcomers had already killed their God King, something no one had ever done. This led to an organized resistance and ultimate destruction of the civilization.
When the Spaniards entered the capital, they started destroying temples and palaces as well as killing any Aztec man, woman or child they could get their hands on. They looted and burned books, artwork and anything else they found valuable.
The people of the Empire fought back, but ultimately it was all for naught: Most were enslaved or killed and those that did survive were mostly infected with diseases brought over from Europe.
The Aztec Empire was no more.
To this day, the few remaining survivors live on as poverty-stricken ghosts of a once great civilization, hated and despised by all who see them.
The spirit of the Aztecs lives on in the hearts of some, however. The Emperor’s brother, Cuitlahac, managed to escape and is gathering an army together in the mountains. Others have taken a more personal approach: Fifty Aztec children were taken from their villages by the Spaniards to be converted to Christianity and made into servants for the upper class citizens.
Among these children is thirteen year old Xiuhcoatl – better known as “Copper” – a mere servant girl, who watches the world with eager young eyes.
It is 1541 and the Conquest of Mexico is in full swing.
Sources & references used in this article:
Black Holes & Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program) by K Thorne – 1995 – books.google.com
Wellness implications of retroactive intentional influence: exploring an outrageous hypothesis by DJ Haraway – 2003 – Prickly Paradigm Press Chicago
Riding rockets: the outrageous tales of a space shuttle astronaut by W Braud – Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 2000 – search.proquest.com