Published: Sun, April 29, 2018
Life&Culture | By Ben Goodman

Archaeologists find ancient mass child sacrifice in Peru

Archaeologists find ancient mass child sacrifice in Peru

Gabriel Prieto, archaeology professor at Peru's National University of Trujillo, said: "They were possibly offering the gods the most important thing they had as a society, and the most important thing is children because they represent the future".

In an email, Dr Quilter said the site provides "concrete evidence" that large scale sacrifices of children occurred in ancient Peru.

The children were sacrificed with 200 llamas on top of a cliff on Peru's northern coast in a region that was ruled by the Chimu Empire until around 1475.

Researchers found that skeletal remains of children and llamas showed evidence of cuts to the sternum and rib dislocations, suggesting that the person or animal being sacrificed had their chest opened and pulled apart to remove the heart.

While incidents of human sacrifice among the Aztec, Maya, and Inca have been recorded in colonial-era Spanish chronicles and documented in modern scientific excavations, the discovery of a large-scale child sacrifice event in the little-known pre-Columbian Chimú civilization is unprecedented in the Americas—if not in the entire world.

The site is formally called Huanchaquito-Las Llamas and falls within a residential neighborhood.

The largest child ritual killing site in the world - with corpses of more than 140 children and 200 young llamas - was discovered by archaeologists in the northern coast of the Huanchaco district, Peru.

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The children range in age from 5 to 14, had their faces smeared with red pigment and were buried facing out to sea.

The name of the archaeological site, "Huanchaquito-Las Llamas", is already well-known from a previous discovery of child and llama remains in 2011, notes Fox News.

"I, for one, never expected it, and I don't think anyone else would have, either". During a dig that year, archaeologists found the remains of 42 children, a number that has since increased.

The children's bodies were buried facing west, towards the Pacific Ocean, while the llamas were buried facing east, toward the Andes mountains. The baby llamas were less than 18 months old.

Haagen Klaus from George Mason University, who was not part of the excacation, hypothesized the Chimu may have turned to sacrificing children to stave off the repeated disruptions brought about by El-Nino.

Evidence of a dried layer of mud in part of the site leads researchers to believe that the killings were done in one single event and may have been done as a response to severe flooding that hit the coastline, which is "generally arid". Robes and fabric discovered in the site were dated between 1400 and 1450. "They may have seen that [adult sacrifice] was ineffective".

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