However, the Maya still survive today, so the conquistadores didn't kill all of them; all but one of the Maya cities had fallen before the arrival of the conquistadores (as the article mentions, the sacrifices at the particular site profiled ended in 900, over six centuries before the Spanish conquest); it isn't clear that the conquistadores knew about the Maya history of human sacrifice; it isn't clear that the conquistadores had any qualms about killing people they saw as fully human, or indeed abusing them in a wide variety of creatively sadistic and depraved fashions.
One of the key sources is Bartolomé de las Casas; this translation is readable but the extensive prefaces about how Catholicism is evil may give you some idea of the difficulties in getting an objective account of what really happened. If you can read Spanish, the original may be easier to read, because English has changed a lot more since that time.
> It is estimated that 90% of the indigenous population had been eliminated by disease within the first century of European contact.
Lol. That’s definitely false.
The data would seem to at least falsify the warfare hypothesis: if they were mostly prisoners-of-war, you'd expect a few localities & demographics to be overrepresented (as they are from the usual enemy city-states, or a burst of young male sacrifices from a victorious battle with many prisoners).
And a gradual dispersion of victims falling off steadily with distance yet with a long tail of very remote origins sounds to me like what you'd get from a mature long-distance network of slave traders.
For the Aztecs, they conquered most of their neighbors but left a few unconquered — these were the city-states they would engage in annual ritual battle where the highest honor was to capture an enemy warrior. When the Spanish invaded, many of these “over-fished” neighbors became eager allies.
So the “trade” in that case matured to something kind of ugly, a kind of Hunger Games annual harvest of your best warriors. I can imagine wanting some revenge after decades of enduring that from a hegemonic neighbor.
A different time, and a different culture, but with a huge amount of similarities too.
Perhaps people viewed it as their sacred duty to be sacrificed?
This being a headline in the Economist—and considering that, apparently, at least some found this use of "who" distracting, while "whom" would have been at least as easy to parse and probably wouldn't have bothered anyone—it's probably fair to call it a small error.
Garner also notes that predictions that "whom" is on its way out are, at this point, part of a long tradition, and do seem to capture the trend but do not yet describe current standard usage outside the fairly informal or colloquial. IOW for the best hope of communicating well at higher-formality registers, especially in writing, do continue (mostly) following the standard rules, in this case, avoiding it only when "correct" use is distracting or strange to a modern reader.
 I do mean anybody: people with or without English as a first language.
Anyone know if the source material is better?
> How the priests of Chichén Itzá came by victims remains a mystery. All that can be said for sure is that the gods inhabiting the Sacred Cenote were not choosy. Men, women, adults, children, strangers and locals. All seem to have been equally acceptable to sate their lust for blood.
I think it is pretty clear that "their lust for blood" refers to "the gods inhabiting the Sacred Cenote," not the people doing the sacrifices.
If you do human sacrifice, it's probably because you want to do human sacrifice. Smart people can always come up with a pretext.
I could imagine a collapse in the food supply necessitating either sacrifice, or cannibalism.
It may have become fashionable to do for various religious and ritualistic reasons, even during good times.
That's not possible because (as every European famine ever has shown) if you choose "none of the above" then people will starve naturally until the famine is over. Not every hard situation is a trolley problem.
Whatever you choose makes a difference in how many people die. It’s still kind of a trolley problem.
The interesting question to me at least is why did it stop?
The context when religions say to kill people has changed, why?
And will it make a comeback with the mass society upheavals I expect due to climate change?