The horrific images of a Syrian rebel commander eating the heart of a dead government solider sparked global outrage and calls that the rebel, identified as Abu Sakkar, the commander of the Independent Omar al-Farouq brigade, be classified as a war criminal.
The shocking propaganda video, the latest installment of a war that has seen more than 80,000 killed since the uprising against President Assad began in March 2011, does have historical precedents.
Indeed, enemy eating is as old as time. The Scythians, Chinese, Maoris, Iroquois, Ashantee, Aztecs, Anasazi and many others are known to have eaten the hearts and other body parts of slain enemies.
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Prisoners of war were claimed to be the main source of food for the Aztec gods. In this case, however, exocannibalism, the eating of enemies or strangers, was a key part of a religious cosmology. The Aztecs believed the sun god had to be fed with the still beating hearts of human beings. Without cannibalizing the defeated enemies, they believed, their world would collapse.