By Thomas R. Horn
On Those Giant, 6-Fingered Cannibalistic Gods That Demanded Human Sacrifice
Considering what we’ve already documented concerning Chaco, we have by this time discussed cannibalism and human sacrifice there, but the truth is that as we discover this practice becoming more widespread during this era, we can see other apexes within their religious system beginning to surface as well. It would appear that polydactyly, having six fingers and/or toes, was a trait that would earn a person a place of reverence or respect as well—something I believe Mesoamericans and eventually some of the Anasazi connected to the offspring of the Cloudeaters, the gods. Anthropologist Patricia Crown led a study on this and discovered that while they were not necessarily believed to actually have been supernatural beings themselves (although Mayan culture does at times connect certain extrahuman powers to the trait), people displaying this characteristic were given a higher rank in society than the typical residents, and were awarded with special items and treatment.
On this matter, Crown said, “We found that people with six toes, especially, were common and seemed to be associated with important ritual structures and high-status objects like turquoise.”[i]
Polydactyly was found to be more common at Chaco than in other regions, which has puzzled some researchers. Discovered at Chaco were three in ninety-six skeletons, a ratio unusually high, at 3.1 percent, when in modern Native Americans, the ratio is .2 percent according to National Geographic.[ii]
Studying the petroglyphs, one can quickly see that six-fingered hands—or, more commonly among the rock art, six-toed footprints—are easy to find, meaning that it was noted frequently in the stories they were trying to leave behind. Something that particularly expresses the importance of these characteristics is that there are many areas where the handprint or footprint is embedded into the door frame right outside the kiva for prominence and notoriety, another indicator that this was given high regard and ritualistic rank.
Sandals accommodating an extra toe were also found in great quantity. Six-digited individuals were given honorary burials, placed with symbolic grave goods, and, in one instance, an individual even had an ornate anklet on his six-toed foot, and no adornment on his five-toed foot.
Another interesting find was at Ash Creek, where an “elite residence” was said to have contained a fragmentary cut of an ulna and humerus (bones) of a dwarf-sized individual. These were considered to be trophy memorabilia and not suspected to have been related in any way to the cannibalism that went on at Chaco.
The Rites Escalate
When we are looking at Chaco Canyon and the element of human sacrifice, we can also look at the Salmon Ruin, on a road linked with Chaco Canyon, where two adults were strongly suspected to have been cannibalized and another thirty—all of whom were children—were killed and burned, theorized to have probably been sacrificed to the Mayan diety Chichén Itzá.[iii] Noted in the ratio of burials for this particular site was the fact that children were strangely absent within the considerate burials, but that there were many who appeared to have died under suspicious circumstances and were burned.
At the Cases Grandes Ruin, archaeologist Charles C. Di Peso wrote of the five deities, (Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, Xiuhtecutli, Xipe Totec, and Tlaloc) that he accredited the Chaco region’s cultural changes during this time to the following:
[They] were all intregal to this Mesoamerican cult, particularly as practiced by the Aztec, who paid special homage to Xipe during their festival of Tlacaxipeualiztli, the second month of their calendar, which occasioned the ceremonial scalping of certain of their sacrificial victims.… Cannibalism, though not unique to Xipe Tótec cultists, was nonetheless a meaningful function of their sect.[iv]
One strange find at Casa Rinconada was the condition of the human remains associated with this site. It was unique from other excavations in this region because of the fact that they were severely chewed. Many skeletons found here were partially missing and either the bones had been chewed and scattered by a “carnivore” or there had been postmortem human disturbance. Sadly, when Turner tried to retrieve them for further inspection, many of them were then missing. The vast majority reported on, however, were said to have had the ends chewed completely off, which was the only place within my studies that showed bones to have been chewed and scattered in such a way, with no sign of it having been a rodent, and possible expert explanations for the disarray ranged from man-made disturbances, to grave robbers, which didn’t account for the chewing. The reporting archaeologist pointed his dusty finger at local wild dogs or coyotes, but even himself stated:
Taken as a whole, there was significantly more modification, human and environmental, to Chacoan bodies than has been noted in comparably sized districts of the Mogollon, Classic-period Hohokam, or western Anasazi culture areas. Chaco Canyon is not only architecturally distinctive, it is also taphonomically strange.[v]
As Time Passes, Rituals Intensify
A particularly gruesome find was that of the location called Houck K, which was estimated closer to A.D. 1250. It would appear that the skeletons of adolescent and adult victims had had their chests disarticulated by “prying and bending their rib cages until the ribs snapped off near the vertebral column.”[vi] The expert coordinating the excavation presumed that the rib fragments were crushed and boiled to extract fat. They found, also at this location, two victims whose heads had been more than scalped. One had been fully flayed and the other had been cut to the upper nose. Of that, Turner stated:
Such facial mutilation could represent either socially pathological violence to the victim or, more likely to our minds, ceremonial flaying like that done to Mesoamerican Tlaloc or Xipe Totec sacrificial victims.[vii]
This is only one of many cases that presented acts such as facial flaying; skin of the deceased being worn; swapping skin, faces, heads, or other body parts between two corpses; and even tongue removal. The farther into this period in the Chacoan region we progress, the thicker the resemblance becomes to that of Mesoamerica, and specifically, Teotihuacan, pre-Aztec city in Middle Mexico that we mentioned before. For example, the sun god Tonatiuh, whose face and protruding tongue are seen at the center of the famous Sun Stone, is the god of the present (fifth) time, which began in 3114 B.C. Tonatiuh—who delivered important prophecies and demanded human sacrifices (more than twenty thousand victims per year were offered to him, according to Aztec and Spanish records, and in the single year of 1487, Aztec priests sacrificed eighty thousand people to him at the dedication of the reconstructed temple of the sun god)—was also known as the lord of the thirteen days (from 1 Death to 13 Flint), a number sacred to Aztec, Maya, and Freemasons for prophetic and mystical reasons.
A Glimpse of Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan has traces that may reach back as far as 200 B.C., but was at its peak between A.D. 150 and A.D. 750 at a possible population of up to two hundred thousand residents. While it is commonly believed that the city was raided, many experts also believe that its internal government had already begun to crumble from the inside out, citing civil unrest as the actual culprit for its demise. Some have even called it the Mesoamerican Tower of Babel, saying that residents adopted a new culture and simply migrated out of the area.[viii]
Regardless of the specific reasons the city’s infrastructure began to crumble, between A.D. 600 and A.D. 900, it is a well-documented fact that nomads looking for a new life migrated outward, and many of them headed north, as we have already established. A traveler leaving this place and coming to a new area would certainly be bringing along some gruesome rituals. See below what Fray Bernardino de Sahagún records about some of the rituals carried out for their deities; Tlaloc, Xipe Totec, Huitzilopochtli, and Quetzalcoatl in the Teotihuacan region:
They killed a large number of infants each year, and once dead they cooked and ate them.… Captives were killed by scalping them, taking the scalp off the top of the head…When the masters of these captives took their slaves to the temple where they were to be killed, they dragged them by the hair. As they pulled them up the steps of the Cú, some of these captives would faint, so their owners had to drag them by the hair as far as the block where they were to die.… After thus having torn their hearts out, and after pouring their blood into a jacara (bowl made of a gourd), which was given to the master of the dead slave, the body was thrown down the temple steps. From there it was taken by certain old men called Quaquaquilti, and carried to their calpul (or chapel), cut to pieces, and distributed among them to be eaten. Before cutting them up they would flay the bodies of the captives; others would dress in their skins and fight sham battles with other men.[ix]
He goes on from there to describe a horrific scene (one that is too graphic to include in this book) where some of the human sacrifice victims are burned alive, then pulled from the fire, at which point their hearts are ripped from their chests regardless of whether they are completely dead. This description seemed to me to be similar to the chest disarticulation that happened at Houck K, which we mentioned previously. The heart is then offered at the feet of the statue of, Xiuhtecutli, their god of fire.
Displaced Drifters Head North
Even in Teotihuacan art, one can find accountings of human sacrifice and cannibalism. Ancient deities that have been mentioned all throughout this chapter were associated with the legendary Dragon, who was worshipped by the gigantic Cloudeaters, who demanded grisly and shocking forms of worship. So, as a result of Teotihuacan crumbling at this time, combined with the Chacoan region’s population growing and beginning to thrive, it created the perfect place for these drifters to find a safe haven, bringing their influences, however malevolent, along with them. See how archaeological team Lister and Lister explain the phenomenon:
Realistically viewed, Chaco Canyon need not have been an actual cog in the Toltec organization of trading outposts to have been influenced by Mexican cultures, for shock waves emanating from an advanced epicenter have a way of reverberating outward to engulf otherwise removed entities.… News, ideas, and technological knowledge undoubtedly passed along the trade routes as readily as did material things, and the traveling salesmen of the times most likely played important roles in cultural diffusion. By that means, eyewitness accounts of Mesoamerican religious rituals, irrigation schemes, architectural embellishments, communication means, and other strange wonders may have reached Chaco. The descriptions may have inspired and encouraged local technicians and leaders to adopt those measures that would be beneficial to the Chacoans.[x]
Lister and Lister seem of the opinion that it would not have been necessary for Chaco to be involved with trade relations in order for the Mesoamerican to impact the area, that just by its mere proximity, the stimulus would have radiated outward and reached Chaco eventually, regardless. But beyond this archaeologist’s surmising, we have established that there was also, indeed, trade happening through the Chaco region, alongside the reach of influence. So there can be no doubt that the sway not only permeated the Chaco region, but that with lengthened exposure over time, the results were escalating. The farther into this time period that we venture to explore, the closer we get to A.D. 1300, the more heinous these acts become, and the more graphic and brutal the descriptions are. It would seem that the earliest recordings of cannibalism and violence during this period now appeared mellow in comparison with the accountings as time progressed.
As we mentioned before, the ghastly facial flaying at Houck K is thought to have happened closer to A.D. 1250, whereas the “simpler” cannibalism and violence of Canyon Butte Ruin was possibly closer to A.D. 1000. If a person examines several sites from several different dates between A.D. 900 and A.D. 1300, they will see that the overall trend is increasing in repugnance as the years progress, which points toward the idea that infiltration began, and that slowly new ideas from Mesoamerican were introduced, and that over the period of time, as is often the case, people became desensitized and these ritual habits intensified.
When Two Worlds Collide
Allow me to recall the comment in I made earlier about the “triple-walled towers” that appeared in about A.D. 1275. Coincidence? We think not.
On the front cover of the 1963 National Monument Brochure for the site Hovenweep, which we visited and studied in our research for this book and the documentary film, proudly declared that its “ruins are noted for their square, oval, circular, and D-shaped towers and are perhaps the best preserved examples of Southwestern Indian defensive architecture.”[xi] The same goes on to describe the towers at this particular site as the “‘sentry boxes’ of a bygone people.”
The story of Hovenweep, as this same brochure tells, is as follows: Between approximately the years of A.D. 400 and A.D. 1100, ancient Native Americans dwelled peacefully in the valleys as hunter-gather, basket-making peoples. In about A.D. 1100, however, some unprecedented threat came to this area, forcing local farmers to move into more defensive locations, and that by A.D. 1200, the living style had generally become that of large, defensive groups housed together in group dwellings for safety. See how the story explains this phenomenon:
By 1200…people tended to withdraw completely from the open valleys and mesa tops to more defensible sites containing permanent springs situated in the heads of the Hovenweep canyons.[xii]
Hovenweep is thought by many to be the last example of architecture from this area in the Four Corners region. Despite the efforts of settlers there, however, like many other defensive sites at this point in time, a massacre occurred and those left alive likely fled.
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We also know that population began to grow, slowly at first, as early as A.D. 900, but by A.D. 1200, occupancy in the Mesa Verde area was in full swing. By A.D. 1200, cliff dwellings were being constructed and inhabited. As I stated very early on in this work, some may argue that this story is backward, but when confronted with the evidence of localized culture change, timelines on locations such as Hovenweep, and the known nature of the defensive structures involved, this seems the chronological direction that makes the most sense. Additionally, most people claiming this timeline also adopt the theory that these people eventually migrated south following their deities. But studying the Teotihuacan history. both the Chaco region and further south will show that the very deities they were said to have followed actually existed in Mexico long before they were in the American Southwest, which further supports our timeline and directional flow. Being that the cultural and religious activity can be proven to date earlier in Mexico, it is reasonable to accept the same timeline on the cliff dwellings, towers, and outward migration as well.
The next argument a naysayer might bring up is that, again as stated early on, the cliff dwellings are not buildings of a defensive nature. Many so-called cultural experts during our investigation became confrontational, feeling that the ancient occupants’ integrity is under attack by way of their living situation. In exploring this, one must start with the most obvious question: Why? For what reason would groups of people choose to build into the side of a cliff, requiring such an arduous climb either upward or downward to reach it, unless there was an enormous threat from which one was trying to escape? Personally, in all of my research, I have yet to hear a really good answer to this question.
We have already established that there was, indeed, a threat migrating into the area, spreading, infiltrating further, as time went by. We propose that those who were living at ground level at a time before A.D. 800 were by A.D. 1200 grouping together, just as the evidence states, to escape to higher ground, either by way of cliff dwellings or protective towers, for safety and survival.
They literally ran for the hills…
The New Way of Life
Take a moment to review some statements made about the Anasazi cliff dwellings by David Roberts, author and writer for Smithsonian magazine:
They (had) lived the open or in easily accessible sites within canyons. But about 1250…began constructing settlements high in the cliffs…that offered defense and protection.…Toward the end of the 13th century, some cataclysmic event forced the Anasazi to flee those cliff houses and their homeland and to move.[xiii]
He goes on to describe a cliff dwelling he visited as a settlement that “seemed to exude paranoia, as if its builders lived in constant fear of attack.”[xiv] In his continued work, he also discusses cannibalism, executions, scalping, decapitating, “face removing” as we discussed earlier, and trophy bone collecting. On top of all of this, he documents a case of fossilized human excrement containing the human protein called myoglobin, which occurs only in cases of cannibalism and is irrefutable proof that the cannibalism did indeed occur.
Neighboring Gallina people also lived in cliff dwellings, had defensive towers, and sometimes even had underground tunnels interconnecting with buildings that were built at ground level. More recent excavations have shown that, at times, entire villages of theirs were massacred. Of this, archaeologist Tony Largaespada said, “Almost all of [the Gallina ever found] were murdered,” he said. “[Someone] was just killing them, case after case, every single time.”[xv] When discussing the cliff dwellings that these people lived in, Tony Largaespada said the dwellings provided “an excellent example of just how scared these people must have been.” He then went on to say, “It was occupied right at the end, and it was only occupied for a short period of time. It may have been all that was left, their last stronghold.”[xvi]
Gallina ruins that have been excavated were also said to have valuable items that had been left behind, and it would appear that, like many Anasazi sites abandoned within this era, the decision to leave was unexpected, hasty, and prompted by violence.
Sand Canyon was constructed around A.D. 1250. During excavation, without even trying, researchers found more than two thousand identifiable human bones and fragments. Archaeologists estimated these came from between forty and forty-five individuals, only nine of which were formally buried. Some skeletons were complete and some were scattered, and some piled “disarticulated.”[xvii] It is clearly stated many times in the reports made by excavators that many of the skeletons found were killed by a sudden, violent event that caused remaining occupants to vacate. While excavators are forthcoming about the fact that they did not excavate anywhere near the entire site, of what they did dig, the ratio of women and children was higher than typical. Although the report never mentions cannibalism or human sacrifice, the account of this site reads similarly to accounts from digs in locations where we know such activities occurred. Many bones found were burned, displayed perimortem cut and chopping marks, and were carelessly discarded in a pile. Loose, disembodied teeth were found in floors of kivas, a common anomaly within sites where cannibalism had occurred. Only one of the bodies unearthed was confirmed to be male; all others were women and children, and many were under the age of 10.
Of particular interest at Sand Canyon were two skeletons of people who appeared to be related to each other. One, the only confirmed male unearthed at the location, age 40–45 years old, was the tallest at this location, with a clavicle said to be “large and massive.” His female relative, second only to him in height at this location, possessed “thin, curved, porous bones; hundreds of wormian bones along the lamboidal suture; and extreme amount of cranial deformation; and an unusually pointed chin.”[xviii] The excavators use possible bone disorders as a reason for these formations, but I could not help think of worldwide testaments that the children born to those women that had been raped by the Cloudeaters (Nephilim) had similar features of six fingers, six toes, distorted mandibles, and double rows of teeth, just as the skeletons discovered at Sand Canyon in this gravesite where sudden and unexplainable violence and cannibalism had occurred. They each had clavicles of unusual size, and the male showed polydactyly, having six toes on his right foot. Both were missing certain teeth congenitally, and the male had double-peg teeth in place of third molars.
Like many other reports I came across in my studies, this was yet another that described, in many different places, that a sudden, violent event had caused rapid, unexpected evacuation.
One Last Appeal?
Sun Temple, excavated in the early 1900s by archaeologist Jesse W. Fewkes, was an uncovered anomaly within Mesa Verde, where many cliff dwellings were unearthed as well. The cliff dwellers were said to be sun worshippers, and of the nature of the Sun Temple, although in entirety still a mystery, is suspected to be a last appeal to their gods before migrating out of the area. In one area, where a stone fossil shaped like the sun is enveloped by three walls, Fewkes reported: “There can be no doubt that the walled enclosures was a shrine and the figure in it may be a key to the purpose of the building. The shape of the figure on the rock suggests a symbol of the sun, and if this suggestion be correct, there can hardly be a doubt that solar rites were performed about it.”[xix] Because the building was never roofed, it is debated that it was intended to never be covered, but as evidence shows, more likely, it was left unfinished. This makes sense, since it is dated to approximately A.D. 1225, and abandonment was approximately A.D. 1250–A.D. 1275. Also worth noting is that many of the structures from this era show evidence of having been built, then added to sporadically over time, always changing and being often repurposed within lifetimes. The Sun Temple, however, was a preconceived notion that was built at once from a premade plan, an ancient blueprint, pursued by many people of like mind, in unison. Fewkes describes in his report that few household goods or other items were found in this excavation. This lends itself to the notion that the building was not finished yet, as it was probably not yet being used. The walls, many of which were not yet plastered, show a Mexican-style masonry, at this time new to the Mesa Verde region. Could this be an indicator that it was even possibly an interracial effort? It was reported by Fewkes, leading archaeologist at its excavation, to have construction properties of both the original Chaco style and of the newer towers, such as were found at Ruin Canyon and Mancos Valley. See Fewkes’ statement of the construction of this building:
The argument that appeals most strongly to my mind supporting the theory that Sun Temple was a ceremonial building is the unity shown in its construction. A preconceived plan existed in the minds of the builders before they began work on the main building. Sun Temple was not constructed haphazard nor was its form due to addition of one clan after another, each adding rooms to an existing nucleus.… Those who made it must have belonged to several clans fused together, and if they united for this common work they were in a higher stage of sociological development than the loosely connected population of a cliff dwelling.… This building was constructed for worship, and its size is such that we may practically call it a temple.… Sun Temple was not built by an alien people, but by the cliff dwellers as a specialized building mainly for religious purposes and so far as known is the first of its type recognized in the Mesa Verde area.[xx]
In the book On the Path of the Immortals (Defender Publishing, 2015), I also noted of the Sun Temple:
The Sun Temple was indeed ruins that I [Tom] wanted to see, because it is a large and significant site that holds much mystery in that nobody, including archaeologists and cultural historians, know what it was for. An eroded stone basin with three indentations at the southwest corner of the structure suggests that it may have been purposed as a sundial to mark the changes in the seasons. Two kivas on top of the structure, together with the lack of windows or doors elsewhere, intimates that it was not meant for housing, which has led modern Pueblo Indians to propose that it was some type of ceremonial structure probably planned for ritual purposes dedicated to the Sun God. The amount of fallen stone that was removed during its excavation is said to indicate that the original walls were between eleven and fourteen feet tall. These walls were thick, double-coursed construction, with a rubble core placed between the panels for strength and insulation. After studying the Sun Temple and comparing it to ancient Mesoamerican culture and edifices, it is this author’s opinion (which is as good as anybody else’s, since we don’t really know) that this site may have been intended as a place for human sacrifice similar to those of the Aztec and Maya. I say this for a couple reasons. First, Dr. Don Mose Jr., a third-generation medicine man we met with for a large part of a day during this investigation (more about him later in this chapter), told us that the oldest legends of the Anasazi, which he had been told by his great-grandfather(who likewise had been told by his ancestors) included stories of the Anasazi turning to sorcery, sacrifice, and cannibalism after they “lost their way” and were driven insane by a reptilian creature, which they depict with a halo above his head. (Images of this being are included in the petroglyphs we filmed inside the canyons, and I believe they likely attest to the fallen reptile [or reptiles] of biblical fame, which also misled humanity.) Second, blood sacrifice was a religious activity in most premodern cultures during some stage of their development, especially as it involved invoking the gods, and the “Sun God” was typically chief among them. This included animals and humans or the bloodletting of community members during rituals overseen by their priests. In fact, the Mayans—who may have influenced the Anasazi or vice versa—believed “that the only way for the sun to rise was for them to sacrifice someone or something every day to the gods.”[xxi]
[i] “Ancient People of Chaco Canyon With Six Fingers and Toes Were Special,” July 27, 2016, Message to Eagle Online, last accessed December 12, 2016, http://www.messagetoeagle.com/ancient-people-chaco-canyon-six-finger-six-toes-special/.
[ii] Aaron Sidder, “Extra Fingers and Toes Were Revered in Ancient Culture,” July 25, 2016, National Geographic Online, last accessed December 12, 2016, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/07/chaco-canyon-pueblo-bonito-social-implications-polydactyly-extra-toes/.
[iii] Christy and Jacqueline Turner, Man Corn, 131
[iv] Charles C. Di Peso, Casas Grandes, a Fallen Trading Center of the Gran Chichimeca, vol. 2: Medio Period. (Flagstaff, Arizona: Amerind Foundation, Northland Press, 1974), 574.
[v] Christy and Jacqueline Turner, Man Corn, 362.
[vi] Ibid., 371.
[vii] Ibid., 380.
[ix] Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, A History of Ancient Mexico, 1547-1577, vol. 1; Translated by F.R. Bandelier from the Spanish version of C.M. de Bustamante, (Nashville, TN: Fisk University Press, 1932) 273.
[x] Robert H. Lister and Florence C. Lister Chaco Canyon: Archaeology and Archaeologists, (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1981) 175.
[xiii] David Roberts, “Riddles of the Anasazi,” July, 2003, Smithsonian Magazine Online, last accessed December 12, 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/riddles-of-the-anasazi-85274508/.
[xv] Blake de Pastino, “Ancient Massacre Discovered in New Mexico—Was it Genocide?” July 12, 2007, National Geographic Online, last accessed December 13, 2016, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/07/070712-chaco-massacre.html.
[xvi] “Photo Gallery: Ancient Massacre Reveals Mysterious American Culture,” July 12, 2007, National Geographic Online, last accessed December 13, 2016, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/07/photogalleries/ancient-culture/photo5.html.
[xvii] Kristin A. Kuckelman and Debra L. Martin, “The Archaeology of Sand Canyon Pueblo, Chapter 7, Human Skeletal Remains,” 2007, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Online, last accessed December 13, 2016, https://www.crowcanyon.org/researchreports/sandcanyon/text/scpw_humanskeletalremains.asp.
[xix] Paul R. Franke, “Mesa Verde Notes, Vol. 5, Number 1, Sun Symbol Markings,” July 1933, National Parks Services History Online, last accessed December 13, 2016, http://www.npshistory.com/nature_notes/meve/vol5-1e.htm.
[xx] Jesse W. Fewkes, Rules and Regulations, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, Excavation and Repair of Sun Temple, (Washington: Government Printing Office 1926), 37-38, last accessed December 12, 2016, as seen online http://npshistory.com/brochures/meve/1926.pdf.
[xxi] Thomas Horn, On the Path of the Immortals, (Crane, MO: Defender Publishing, 2015), pgs 48–49