The remains of seven children apparently killed in a ritual and buried beneath a 500- to 600-year-old building in Peru’s Cuzco Valley have given scientists new glimpses of the sketchily understood Inca practice of sacrificing select children in elaborate ceremonies.
The children were buried at the same time, apparently after having been killed in a sacrificial rite that honored Inca deities and promoted political unity across the far-flung empire, say anthropologist Valerie Andrushko of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and her colleagues.
Chemical analyses of the bones indicate that at least two of the children came from distant parts of the Inca realm, Andrushko’s group reports in a paper published online Sept. 15 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Archaeological evidence of Inca child sacrifices has come mainly from youngsters’ naturally mummified bodies found frozen on several Andean peaks. Human figurines and other valuable objects lay near those bodies.