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Sacrificed Children’s Remains Examined in Peru

Monday, September 23, 2019

CUZCO, PERU—According to a Science in Poland report, a team led by Dagmara Socha of the Center for Andean Studies of the University of Warsaw in Cuzco and Rudy Perea Chávez of the Catholic University of Santa Maria in Arequipa's Museo Santuarios Andinos is reexamining the remains of six sacrificed children discovered decades ago on top of the Ampato and Pichu Pichu volcanoes. “The Incas considered the children pure and untouched; their status was supposed to facilitate persuading the gods to make specific decisions,” Socha explained. Radiography of the mummified remains reveals the Inca buried the children with wooden ritual cups, gold pins and tubes, and petals. Socha thinks the children may have been chosen for sacrifice from different regions of the Inca Empire some 500 years ago because they were particularly beautiful, or had a particular ancestry. The remains of a girl found on a platform on Pichu Pichu, for example, had an intentionally elongated head—a lowland practice not known to be in use in the mountains where the girl’s body was recovered. Marks in her tooth enamel indicate she suffered nutritional distress that disrupted her development at about three years of age. Socha suggests the girl was taken away from her parents at this time and brought to Cuzco, where she was prepared for sacrifice at the top of the volcano at the age of six. The team members plan to analyze the chemical composition of the children’s tooth enamel for information on their diets and places of birth. For more on child sacrifice in Peru, go to "World Roundup: Peru."

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