The Highest Altar: 2the Story of Human Sacrifice

Patrick Tierney, Author Viking Books $22.5 (416p) ISBN 978-0-670-82809-8
The 1954 discovery and subsequent autopsy of a 500-year-old mummified Inca boy, victim of human sacrifice, inspired this archeological, anthropological detective story by Omni and Discovery writer Tierney. His research into the origins of human sacrifice involve encounters among the Incas of the high Andes where priests and witches still conduct sacrificial killings combining Christian and ancient pagan rites, both of which are usually accompanied by heavy consumption of alcohol. Described in detail are methods of victim selection, execution and reasons for these acts--which include deification of the victim, propitiation of gods and of natural forces. Tierney's analysis of the complex evolution of attitudes toward human sacrifice from the actual to the symbolic, e.g., from Crucifixion of Christ to Eucharist, is treated summarily as little more than an addendum to his firsthand accounts of his Andean adventures. Photos not seen by PW. 20,000 first printing. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-14-013974-7
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