Among the Cannibals: Adventures on the Trail of Man's by Paul Raffaele

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By Paul Raffaele

It's the stuff of nightmares, the darkish notion for literature and picture. yet astonishingly, cannibalism does exist, and in Among the Cannibals commute author Paul Raffaele trips to the a long way corners of the globe to find members during this mysterious and hectic perform. From an vague New Guinea river village, the place Raffaele went looking for one of many final practising cannibal cultures in the world; to India, the place the Aghori sect nonetheless ritualistically consume their lifeless; to North the USA, the place proof exists that the Aztecs ate sacrificed sufferers; to Tonga, the place the descendants of fierce warriors nonetheless bear in mind how their predecessors preyed upon their foes; and to Uganda, the place the unlucky sufferers of the Lord's Resistance military fight to reenter a society from which they've been violently torn, Raffaele brings this baffling cultural ritual to mild in a mixture of Indiana Jones-type experience and gonzo journalism.

Illustrated with photos Raffaele took in the course of his travels, Among the Cannibals is a gripping examine the various extra unsavory facets of human civilization, certain to fulfill each reader's morbid curiosity.

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For one thing, at least some of the figures identified as female are in fact androgynous, that is, they lack any obvious sexual characteristics. In these cases, we don’t know if they were female, male, or sexless. We have to be careful assuming that anything that isn’t obviously male must be female. Also, figurines in themselves don’t have to be religious. They might be toys, models for instruction, secular art, or the result of rituals that aren’t religious. It is noteworthy that one of the most famous figurines from Çatalhöyük, an obese, seated woman, was found in a trash deposit.

The same can be said about religion. So if there is a biological capacity for religious experience, then has it always been a part of our physical make-up? Well, that’s a question that is also tricky to answer. Part of the issue has to do with recognizing evidence for religion in the archaeological record. Because beliefs are an intrinsic part of religion and beliefs aren’t directly preserved in the ground, it can be hard to know when we are looking at something indicative of religion and when we aren’t.

Obviously the depictions meant something to those who made them, but do we know that they were ever religious? There are several lines of evidence that suggest that at least some of them were. Depictions of things that don’t happen in nature, like flying people or humans with animal heads, suggest the kinds of nonhuman beings that I talked about before as being a typical part of religion. Also, some sites are clearly not living sites, and are located in places that are not easily accessible, like small recesses deep in cave systems.

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