Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Archaeologists: Ancient Peruvian empire sacrificed 140 kids

The remains had been preserved in dry sand for more than 500 years. Gabriel Prieto  National Geographic The remains had been preserved in dry sand for more than 500 years. Gabriel Prieto National Geographic
Jeannette Daniel | 29 April, 2018, 00:43

The children were buried alongside 200 young llamas on a bluff along Peru's northern coast, National Geographic reported Thursday.

The investigations were carried out by an global team led by National Geographic's Peruvian explorer Gabriel Prieto, of the National University of Trujillo, and John Verano, a physical anthropologist from Tulane University in New Orleans.

The burial site was apparently built by the ancient Chimu empire.

A scientific team funded by National Geographic Society have uncovered a burial site for more than 140 children, three adults and 200 young llamas who appear to have been ritually sacrificed around 550 years ago.

"It is ritual killing and it's very systematic", Verano told Nat Geo.

All the skeletons showed signs of cuts to the sternum and rib dislocation, which points to the ancient sacrificial practice of heart removal, performed by cutting open the victims' chests.

Acknowledging that the discovery of human sacrifice has been found among the Aztec, Inca and Mayan cultures, Nat Geo noted that the ChimĂș find "is unprecedented in the Americas - if not the world".

The children range in age from 5 to 14, had their faces smeared with red pigment and were buried facing out to sea. The layer could have been caused by the rains in the usually dry area - probably linked to extreme weather event such as the El Nino.


"There are no other examples of child sacrifices anywhere in the world that compares to the magnitude of this ChimĂș event", Verano says.

"People sacrifice that which is of most and greatest value to them", Haagen Klaus, one of the researchers involved in the dig, told the publication. But the archaeological record suggests they succumbed to an Incan invasion only a few decades after the sacrifices occurred. The rains kept coming.

He said it's impossible to know what really happened without a time machine but the discovery contributes significantly to modern knowledge on ritual violence and variations of human sacrifice in the Andes. There are even skid marks in the sediment indicating places where the sacrificial victims were reluctant to participate. "But it's actually a much more complicated attempt at negotiation with those supernatural forces and their manipulation by the living", he added.

The researchers are now trying to figure out why these children were sacrificed.

Some of the victims showed evidence of skull deformations, a custom that was practice in some of the highland areas during that time.

The Las Llamas site is located in a shanty town, and has been fenced off to stop illegal developers from building homes on it.

Prieto also suggested that "this just may be the tip of the iceberg".

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