Greek archaeologist Anna Karapanagiotou, head of the excavation team, qualified the discovery as unique. ‘Several ancient literary sources mention rumors that human sacrifice took place at the altar,’ said the archaeologist.
Though until now, no human bones were found; this discovery may confirm a dark ancient Greek legend, linked with human sacrifice to Zeus, the supreme god.
One version of the legend is that a boy was sacrificed with animals, with the meat and human flesh cooked and eaten together. Legend has it that whoever ate the human part would turn into a wolf for nine years.
Another version states that it was King Lykaon – who was dubious about the powers of Zeus – who sacrificed his son Nyctimus to the god. He served his son’s flesh with the meat of animals. He wanted to see if the king of gods was omniscient enough to notice. And so he did. Zeus, mad with fury, cursed King Lykaon and turned him into a wolf.
The skeleton was buried in the center of the altar in an ash mound. Everything points out that the skeleton was a teenage boy.
So far, human sacrifices to gods had rarely been confirmed by archaeological discovery, but this latest discovery might change this.
Mount Lykaion is the earliest known location where Zeus was worshiped, and the site was the scene of countless animals killed in honor of the god.
Though human sacrifices in ancient times might be a possibility, it is still unknown if it was a generalized practice. Until now, only seven percent of the burial site has been dug up – who knows what the rest of the excavations may reveal.