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Home / World / Remains of 140 children were found in Peru and date back to A. 1450: The two-way: NPR

Remains of 140 children were found in Peru and date back to A. 1450: The two-way: NPR



Buried together, a child and a lama were part of a mass murder that involved more than 140 children and more than 200 lamas at the Huanchaquito-Las Llamas site in coastal Peru near Trujillo.

Gabriel Prieto / National Geographic


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Gabriel Prieto / National Geographic

Buried together, a child and a lama were part of a mass murder that involved more than 140 children and over 200 lamas at the Huanchaquito-Las Llamas site in coastal Peru near Trujillo.

Gabriel Prieto / National Geographic

Archaeologists discovered the remains of more than 140 children in Peru, children they believe were killed by heavy rains.

Their skeletons were found at an archaeological site officially known as Huanchaquito-Las Llamas. The Chimú Empire, some 550 years ago, reported National Geographic in an exclusive edition on Thursday.

Researchers believe that both boys and girls between the ages of five and fourteen were killed by experienced hands. The victims appear to come from various ethnic groups and have been bluffed from far away places in the vast Chimus realm.

Peruvian archaeologist Gabriel Prieto, who grew up in the area, dug an ancient temple in the area of ​​Chimú in 2011, when people living near coastal dunes told him they saw bones.

"We started the excavation the same day," Prieto told NPR from Peru. "I remember that in the first hour or two we had found 12 or 13 complete bodies and from there we knew that we were in an important place and that we had to call other archaeologists because this was not possible at the moment . " [19659012 Preserved in dry sand for more than 500 years, more than a dozen bodies were found by archaeologists. The researchers reported that "were remnants of children around the age of five to fourteen."

Gabriel Prieto / National Geographic


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Gabriel Prieto / National Geographic

Prieto, a National Geographic Explorer and professor, said his work resumed there in 2014 with grants from the National Geographic Society. He and John Verano, Professor of Anthropology at Tulane University, led the research.

They found that these were not ordinary remains. Many of the children had faces covered in red pigment, sternum with cuts and ribs dislocated – indicating that their hearts had been removed. The researchers also found the remains of 200 juvenile lamas who also died in ritual killing.

Footprints of barefoot children, adults in sandals, young lamas and dogs have led researchers to construct a theory of their death. And it's rooted in a layer of dried mud in the eastern part of the 7,500 square foot archaeological site.

Researchers believe that heavy rains and floods caused by El Niño weather patterns claimed massive casualties. It would have had devastating consequences for Chimú's infrastructure, which was built for dry conditions and had a network of canals.

Prieto said the damage would ultimately have threatened the rulers. "Anything that would affect their economic or political stability would take advantage of whatever resources they could have to control that kind of situation."

The discovery has fascinated archaeologists. Vanderbilt University anthropology professor Tom Dillehay, who has not worked on the project, told NPR that the Andes has a legacy of human sacrifice, but "not in that intensity or magnitude."

He said that the children seem to die as victims, the researchers concluded. "There is no other explanation for the accumulation of so many children," said Dillehay. "You could associate it with warfare and maybe collect children – but why sacrifice so many animals?"

But he is skeptical of what has caused her death and says that many archaeologists and geologists are "triggers happy" El Niño as the cause of disasters. "I think we need to be more careful, unless they have solid geological evidence," he said, adding that the mud might indicate that it was a tsunami, for example. "If a very local event like El Niño affected the community, why would you have to stretch several hundred kilometers to bring children in?"

Jonathan Haas, emeritus curator at The Field Museum, disagreed. "The mud layer indicates that it is raining and it never rains on the coast of Peru, except for quite traumatic El Niño events," he told NPR from Peru. Because the infrastructure was built for a dry region, "when it rains, the entire agricultural system is destroyed."

Haas also noted that the sheer number of children offered shows that this old society was not benevolent. "It shows the power the rulers had in bringing children away from their parents and killing them." That's a lot of state power. "

Prieto said the researchers would continue to learn about the victims through DNA and biological analysis. They will submit a report on the discovery in a peer-reviewed scientific journal National Geographic .

The discovery provides a new insight into Peru's history, aside from the geoglyphs of the Nazca Lines and the Inca culture, which are represented in Machu Picchu, Prieto said. "Given all this human remains and the Lama remains in very fragile conditions, surrounded by modern homes, it was really a sense of responsibility that we had something important in mind – that we must take it up in the best possible way to finally make this story to tell. "


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