Children Killed In History's Largest Mass Sacrifice Unearthed In Peru
29 April, 2018, 00:46 | Author: Austin Daniel
Evidence for the largest single incident of mass child sacrifice in the Americas and likely in world history has been discovered by National Geographic Explorers on Perus northern coast.
The victims appear to have been part of a ritual sacrifice that took place almost 550 years ago when the Chimú Empire ruled the area, archaeologists said.
Other South American civilizations, like the Incas and the Aztec, practiced ritualhuman sacrifice, but archaeologists have never found children's bodies in such a high concentration before.
Ongoing scientific investigations into the Peru site, formally called Huanchaquito-Las Llamas, are being carried out by an worldwide team funded by the National Geographic Society.
The remains of more than 140 children and 200 young llamas were found under residential compounds outside the city of Trujillo, in Peru's northwest, National Geographic reports.
It's estimated that the children ranged from about 5 to 14 years old, with the majority between the ages of 8 and 12, according to the magazine.
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.
In this 2011 photo, archaeological students clean the remains of children and young llamas in the fishing town of Huanchaquito, Trujillo. The Chimu was the second-largest empire in Peru before Spanish colonization, next to the Incas, who were also known to sacrifice children during rituals.
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"It is ritual killing, and it's very systematic", one of the researchers, John Verano of Tulane University, told National Geographic.
Researchers and anthropologists are now trying to understand the motivation behind the large-scale sacrifice, and why the burial pits combined children with baby llamas.
Peru's northern coast, where the children and baby llamas were found has been under excavation since 2011.
Professor Verano said the children's skeletons contained lesions on their breastbones, which were probably made by a ceremonial knife.
Mr Quilter is part of a team which will analyse DNA from the children's remains to see if they were related and to find out where they came from. Radiocarbon dating pinpointed the date of the supposed sacrifice between 1400 and 1450.
"It makes you wonder how many other sites like this there may be out there in the area for future research", Prieto told National Geographic.
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".
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