Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site

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The remains of 132 youngsters — who were slain as part of a ritual offering 550 years ago — have been uncovered along the coast of the beachside town of Huanchaco in northern Trujillo province (La Libertad region).

Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site
Credit: Andina

With this new finding, the number of victims in the biggest-ever sacrifice of children totals 269. Investigations are underway.




Led by Peruvian archaeologist Gabriel Prieto, the discovery was made at the Pampa La Cruz area located 1.5 km from Huanchaquito-Las Llamas, where well-preserved skeletons of 137 children from pre-Columbian Chimu civilization were exhumed back in 2018.

Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site
Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site
Credit: Andina

In addition to the child vestiges, the discovery included bones of three adults and 260 young llamas —also sacrificed— which are added to other 206 South American camelids unearthed in the Huanchaquito-Las Lomas sector, where research began in 2011.




What amazed archaeologists the most was the fact that some skeletons still have well-preserved hair.

Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site
Archaeologists find more remains of sacrificed children at Peru site
Credit: Andina

In fact, one of the infants was wearing a hair ornament with macaw feathers, a native cotton fabric, and thin wool braids.




According to researchers, this shows that some of the children —who were between the ages of five and 14— belonged to the elite of the time.

Children’s remains show evidence of horizontal deep cuts to the sternum —at heart level— caused by a copper knife recently found at Pampa La Cruz.




Prieto consulted John Verano —a forensic expert and professor at Tulane University— to further understand the clues.

Verano has experience analyzing physical evidence of ritual violence in the Andes, including a 13th century Chimu massacre of some 200 men and boys at Punto Lobo site in Piura.

For more on this story see: ‘What made this ancient society sacrifice its own children?’ featured in National Geographic Magazine.

Source: Andina [January 18, 2019]

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