Archaeologists in Peru discover mass child sacrifice site

Archaeologists in Peru discover mass child sacrifice site

Archaeologists have found the remains of 140 children in a mass grave on the northern coast of Peru - evidence they say suggests the largest ritual child sacrifice in history, according to National Geographic.

Ongoing scientific investigations into the Peru site, formally called Huanchaquito-Las Llamas, are being carried out by an worldwide team funded by the National Geographic Society. At the excavation site, the children were found to be facing west, toward the ocean, while the young llamas were facing east, toward the Andes Mountains.

The investigation, led by Nat Geo's Gabriel Prieto and John Verano, a physical anthropologist from Louisiana's Tulane University, linked the site to the Chimú civilization, a pre-Columbian society that worshipped the moon.

According to the report, "Skeletal remains of both children and animals show evidence of cuts to the sternum as well as rib dislocations". They note that there may also be other sites like this at Las Llamas awaiting discovery.

"I, for one, never expected it", Verano told the magazine.

The team uncovered evidence of "the largest single incident of mass child sacrifice in the Americas - and likely in world history".

The photos clicked by the National Geographic on April 22, 2011, shows more than 140 bodies which was found inside the dry sand for more than 500 years, at the Huanchaquito-Las Llamas site near Trujillo, Peru.

Archaeologists in Peru discover mass child sacrifice site

In addition, archaeologists also discovered rope and textiles, which have been radiocarbon dated to between 1400 and 1450.

Most of the corpses of children were aged between eight and 12, although there were remains of kids who were buried at 14 years of age.

The children appear to have been ritually sacrificed, possibly at a time when floods caused by the El Niño weather system were sweeping the Peruvian coastline.

The team said that mud found at the site could have been the result of severe flooding and rain at the time that could disrupted food supplies.

"It is ritual killing, and it's very systematic", Verano told National Geographic. It could be proof of the biggest little one sacrifice in historical past, in line with an exclusive report by National Geographic, launched Thursday on its web site. There are even skid marks in the sediment indicating places where the sacrificial victims were reluctant to participate.

"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", Mr Prieto said. "They may have seen that [adult sacrifice] was ineffective".

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

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