Turkey 2006: The Village Sacrifice (Graphic)

Jun 24, 2006
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Blood from a sheep sacrifice stains the ground
Above: Blood from a sheep sacrifice stains the ground in a village outside of Bismil, Turkey.

So Ethno-archaeology has become a major focus this year since we haven't been in the field. Basically what this is for us, is looking at modern villages and cultures to compare with the ancient sites. The other day was definitely one of the most interesting experiences that I have had while traveling..... A couple of us went to Choletepe - the local village near the excavation - and watched a family sacrifice a sheep for the village. It was an important component to their religious beliefs and had to be done in a very specific way. As I'm sure you can imagine, it wasn't easy to watch (especially at the beginning)... But it was actually a pretty amazing process. From the kill to having tiny chopped pieces ready to be distributed to the village took about 45 minutes.

They killed the sheep fast by cutting the throat and snapping the neck. What amazed me was that after the head and body were separated, both pieces continued to move individually for almost a minute.


The next step was to inflate the body like a balloon in order to peel back the skin like taking off a shirt, This was done by cutting a small hole into the leg, inserting a tube, and then filling the body with air. A cut was then made around the entire hind area of the sheep and the skin was slowly peeled off.


The sheep was then gutted at which point scavenging neighborhood cats took their share of the spoils (the intestines, which were immediately dragged to a safe distance and devoured).


The meat was then removed with a cleaver and chopped into pieces ready to be distributed and cooked. All in all, the one sheep will feed about 10 families.


The hardest moment was probably when a young child came out of the house crying for the sheep that was now almost entirely contained in a red bucket.

Anyways, I empathize with vegetarians at a whole new level now. But, yes, I still had meat for dinner.

Blood from a sheep sacrifice stains the ground

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