In what is being dubbed as the world's largest known child sacrifice site, archaeologists in northern Peru are said to have found the burial site known as Las Llamas.
The sacrifice site, formally known as Huanchaquito-Las Llamas, is just a thousand feet from the sea.
The children's bodies were buried facing west, towards the Pacific Ocean, while the llamas were buried facing east, toward the Andes mountains.
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. The delay between the initial discovery and actual examination of the site was held up until the worldwide, interdisciplinary team, led by Gabriel Prieto of the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo and John Verano of Tulane University, were able to get sufficient funding for. a proper excavation.
"Skeletal stays of each kids and animals present proof of cuts to the sternum in addition to rib dislocations", the report says.More news: Suspect in deputy killing held in maximum security prison
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Calling it a "remarkable discovery", Jeffrey Quilter, the director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University said the site provides "concrete evidence" that large-scale sacrifices of children occurred in ancient Peru. In the next five years, they found more, and also recovered ropes and textiles dating back to the first half of the 15th century.
At the time, archaeologists uncovered the skeletons of 42 children and 76 young llamas at the burial site. Most societal models that look at human sacrifice, however, are based on the ritual killing of adults, says Joseph Watts, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Unlike the child sacrifices, officials reported the adults showed signs of blunt-force trauma to the head.
The scientists involved in the excavation believe the mass murder was motivated by a desperation to halt a significant climate event related to El-Nino, with mud found during the excavation pointing to severe rain and flooding in the typically arid area.
"Until now, the largest mass child sacrifice event for which we have physical evidence is the ritual murder and interment of 42 children at Templo Mayor in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan", National Geographic said, referring to what is modern-day Mexico City. "Maybe there was a need for a new type of sacrificial victim". "They may have seen that [adult sacrifice] was ineffective".