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Did the ancient Incas sacrifice children? Peruvian tomb found to contain the bodies of adolescents who had their feet chopped off

Ian Harvey

Archaeologists in Peru have discovered more than a dozen ancient tombs at a coastal ruin, one of which contains the remains of two children whose feet had been cut off. Specialists working at the Chotuna Chornancap archaeological complex in Northern Lima found 17 graves dating back to at least the 15th century. This includes the remains of six children, who placed beside each other in pairs of shallow graves. Two of them had their feet cut off, apparently in a ceremonial sacrifice meant to turn them into “guardians” for the other bodies. The rest of the graves in the complex held adult women and men, many of whom also showed signs of injuries, suggesting that they might have been sacrifices as well.

Archaeologists also discovered a more elaborate tomb at the center of the complex, which contained two clay pots, a sculpture of a smiling man, and a barrel carved into the shape of a coquero (someone who chews coca leaves).



Sican culture, Sican gold cup, 850-1050 AD
Sican gold cup, 850-1050 AD

The temple compound was found in the year 2010, and since then more than 50 sacrificial victims have been discovered, going back hundreds of years and spanning three different civilizations. Specialists excavating the site have also found evidence that the followers of Naylamp, the fictional creator of Sican culture, actually did exist. According to legend, Naylamp came forth from the ocean and became a god, creating many great. The story goes that when he died, his acolytes buried him in secret. Archaeologists previously doubted whether his followers actually existed, but the temple complex seems to prove that there were indeed some people who believed in and worshiped Naylamp.

Children of Llullaillaco Photo Credit
Children of Llullaillaco Photo Credit

Child sacrifice was actually rather widespread in Inca society. In fact, some of the best preserved Inca mummies every found where those of three children who had been ritually killed and buried on Mount Llullaillaco. The oldest child was dubbed “La Doncella” which translates to “The Maiden”, and is estimated to have been about 15 years old. She was found alongside a younger girl and a boy. All of the children were drugged with coca leaves and alcohol and died in their sleep. The Inca believed that coca and alcohol allowed people to enter different states of mind and connect with the spirit world.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News