As reported on April 26th, archeologists in Peru have discovered more than 140 children killed ritually in a single event 550 years ago, which may have been the largest child sacrifice in history.
Discovery of the Sacrifice
|Child Victim (Left) and Baby Llama (Right)/ National Geographic|
The remains of 140 ritually-sacrificed children were found in Trujillo, a northern coastal region in Peru. This archeological excavation site has been studied for the ancient Chimu c i v i l i z a t i o n remains with diggings since 2011, when 42 children victims and 76 juvenile llamas were uncovered. The excavations concluded with the discovery of 140 child remains and 200 juvenile llamas’ altogether. Although incidents of human sacrifice have long been recorded among the Aztec, Maya, and Inca civilizations, the child sacrifices of Chimu is to be the largest case discovered on the American continent. According to a cover story by National Geographic, archeologists think that such a large child sacrifice might be an unprecedented discovery. The age of the discovered children varied from five to fourteen, and llamas were under 18 months of age. Most children were buried facing west, and llamas facing east.
Speculations on What Happened
The skeletons of children and llamas showed signs that suggested their chests had been cut open and pulled apart; perhaps to remove the heart. John Verano of Tulane University, leader of the investigation, mentioned that the ritual killing was a “very systematic process.” Analysis showed very little hesitance of the executioners. Meanwhile, the archeologist team thinks “El Niño” would have been the motivation of Chimu for this mass child sacrifice. El Niño is a climate pattern that periodically brings torrential rain and causes trouble in coastal regions. The team commented, “People sacrifice what is greatest of value to them. Maybe new sacrifices were needed because adult sacrifices did not stop the rain.”
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