Traces of large-scale child sacrifices found in Peru

(ORDO NEWS) — The cultures of pre-Columbian South America were first defined by the Spaniards as “bloody”, but then some historians disputed this thesis, referring to the small (compared to the Aztecs) number of traces of sacrifices in these parts. New finds show that at least the Chimu culture cannot be suspected of excessive mercy.

The Chimu culture existed in the north of modern Peru during the so-called Late Intermediate Pre-Columbian chronology of the Andean region – from 1000 to 1476 AD.

This culture was formed on the lands occupied by the civilization of Mochike (Moche), and gradually replaced its predecessors, the Chimu state was called Chimor.

In 2018, archaeologists found in the Peruvian province of Trujillo, in the Pampa la Cruz region, a burial site that contained the remains of 140 children and 200 llamas.

In the work describing this discovery, it is said that both children and animals were killed during the rite of sacrifice: their hearts were cut out, and then laid in a certain way.

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Excavations in 2018

The burial was found near the place where the capital of Chimora, Chan Chan, was once located. Radiocarbon analysis showed that the sacrifice was made about 550 years ago.

Comparing the dating with paleoclimate data, scientists have suggested that children and llamas were killed to stop the flooding caused by El Niño, which then brought serious destruction.

Now Peruvian archaeologists have reported that they have found two more burial mounds with children’s burials in the same region. In one mound, 25 graves were found, and in another, another 51 graves.

Almost all the children are buried lying on their sides, with their feet to the east, their heads to the west – in such a way that their backs are turned to the sea.

In addition, a grave with the remains of five adult women sitting in a circle, head to head, was excavated in the first barrow. In total, the remains of 302 children aged five to 14 who died during sacrifices, and almost 400 lamas have been found in this area to date.

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Five women were buried in this grave

Carbon-14 dating showed that the researchers found traces of at least six large sacrifices, quite widely separated in time – from 1050 to 1500 AD. That is, it is impossible to say that it was a one-time action associated with a catastrophic event (flood).

Archaeologist Gabriel Prieto of the University of Florida (USA) believes that the earliest sacrifice in Pampa la Cruz could have had a political purpose.

According to the scholar, it occurred precisely at the time when the Chimu were conquered by peoples such as the Lambayeque (Sican culture), who lived in the valleys to the north.

He believes that the victims may have been Lambayeque residents who were brought to the Chimu capital to celebrate these victories.

Another possible interpretation is that the sacrifice was in honor of Taikanamo, the legendary founder of the Chimu state, who is said to have come from the sea and marched south to establish the Chimu capital of Chan Chan around 1000 AD. Pampa la Cruz rises above the very spot where it is believed to have emerged from the sea.

During this period, the Chimu people, apparently, were quite passionate and aggressive. They completely exterminated the carriers of the Moche and Lambayeque cultures, but even after that they constantly fought: perhaps they were not interested in the lands of their neighbors, but in those resources that they could take with them – and, of course, people for sacrifices.

The government of the Chimu, like that of most pre-Columbian cultures of the time, is a theocracy. The ruler was considered a direct descendant of the mythological founder and a deity. Many government positions were hereditary.

There were also administrators of the conquered territories: their power on the ground was practically unlimited. In return, they were required only to deliver the prescribed volumes of food or handicrafts to Chan Chan on time.

Scholars suggest that by some point, most Chimu were artisans. They made ceramic products, processed metals, and produced fabrics. And artisans were forbidden to change the type of activity – which, in turn, made new predatory or predatory wars inevitable, otherwise it became quite difficult to get food.

As a result, in the 15th century, the Chimu encountered the Incas, who conquered them. Skillful gold products of Chan Chan artisans became the decoration of the Temple of the Sun in Cusco, and the last ruler of the Chimu married an Inca princess.


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