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Children Killed In History's Largest Mass Sacrifice Unearthed In Peru

Children Killed In History's Largest Mass Sacrifice Unearthed In Peru

An archaeological dig in Peru that has been going on since 2011 may have unearthed the largest single mass child sacrifice in the history of humanity, National Geographic reports.

More than 140 children were sacrificed at about the same time in Peru's northern coastal region, about 550 years ago.

Before the Las Llamas discovery, the largest known mass child sacrifice was the Templo Mayor event, in which 42 children were killed in the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, sometime between 1481 and 1486.

Scientific investigations by the global, interdisciplinary team, led by National Geographic Explorers Gabriel Prieto of the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo and John Verano of Tulane University, are ongoing.

The skeletal remains of more than 140 children and 200 baby llamas were found on the country's northern coast. The llamas were less than 18 months and were buried facing the Andes mountains on the east.

The youngsters had their faces smeared with a crimson cinnabar-based pigment, the report says, which happened through the ceremony earlier than their chests have been minimize open, nearly certainly to take away their hearts.

Prieto said that besides the bones, researchers also found footprints that have survived rain and erosion.




Verano said the children's skeletons contained lesions on their breastbones, which were probably made by a ceremonial knife. When discovered, some of the human and animal victims seemed to have had their chests cut open, perhaps to have their hearts removed, according to Nat Geo.

Remains of three adults, a man and two women, were also found close to the children and llamas.

Read the full National Geographic story here.

Researchers believe the sacrifice may have had to do with the Chimu's desperate attempts to appease El-Nino - a weather cycle occurring every 2-7 years that can cause stronger hurricanes, flooding and increased rainfall.

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". Human sacrifice has taken place in every corner of the world at one time or another in our history, although the mass sacrifice of children is very rare, actually nearly unheard of to most scientists. "Maybe there was a need for a new type of sacrificial victim".

"Las Llamas is already such a unique site in the world, and it makes you wonder how many other sites like this there may be out there in the area for future research", says Prieto.

Prieto also suggested that "this just may be the tip of the iceberg".

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