The scale and efficiency of these killings varied greatly, as well as the methods and reasonings. Sometimes people were sacrificed when a cultural taboo or custom was breached. Other times the rituals marked an important occasion, like the funeral of a chief, the sanctifying of a new building, or holy festivities. The men who carried out these brutal practices were often social elites, like religious figures or royalty, and they were particularly liberal and creative in their methods. Across cultures these ranged from burning, drowning, strangulation, bludgeoning, being buried alive, crushed, decapitated, cut to pieces, thrown from great heights. The list goes on.