Reading Time: 2 minutes

Archaeologists near Trujillo, Peru have uncovered a mass grave containing the skeletons of 140 children, aged approximately 5 to 14, who all appear to have died in the same event.

The (ahem) good news is that the killings occurred about 550 years ago. The bad news is that the reason for the deaths defies rationality. The children didn’t perish from epidemic illness, or in a natural disaster, or during an enemy raid of their city. They were ritually killed to persuade the gods to make it stop raining.

The pre-Columbian burial site, known as Las Llamas, contains the skeletons of 140 children who were between the ages of 5 and 14 when they were ritually sacrificed during a ceremony about 550 years ago, [said] experts who led the excavation. …

The burial site was apparently built by the ancient Chimu empire,

… which was conquered and subsumed by the Incas in the late 15th century. Not that it made a difference to the children who continued to be marked for death. Aztecs, Mayans and Incas all made human sacrifices to extract favors from their deities. Under Mayan rule,

Slaves, criminals, bastards, orphans and children made up the bulk of the sacrificial victims. Children were desired because of their innocence, and they would sometimes be abducted or purchased from neighboring cities. The purchase price was paid in red beans.

In the case of the Las Llamas burial site,

It is thought the children were sacrificed as floods caused by the El Niño weather pattern ravaged the Peruvian coastline.

One of the leaders of the excavation, Gabriel Prieto, who teaches archaeology at the National University of Trujillo, says the culture that carried out the bloodbath sacrificed “the most important thing they had.”

Mr. Prieto said that besides the bones, researchers also found footprints that have survived rain and erosion. The small footprints indicate the children were marched to their deaths from Chan Chan, an ancient city a mile away from Las Llamas, he said. …

[T]he children’s skeletons contained lesions on their breastbones, which were probably made by a ceremonial knife. Dislocated rib cages suggest that whoever was performing the sacrifices may have been trying to extract the children’s hearts.

According to the New York Times, the site represents “one of largest single cases of child sacrifice” in the world.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments