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Peru finds human sacrifices from Inca civilization in Chotuna Chornancap archaeological site in Lambayeque

Chotuna Pre Inca Tomb
   Burial of human sacrifices in Chotuna. Photo: ANDINA.

Jun 4, 2009 4:20pm EDT. Source: Reuters.

LIMA (Reuters) - Researchers at an archeological site in northern Peru have made an unusually large discovery of nearly three dozen people sacrificed some 600 years ago by the Incan civilization.

The bodies, some of which show signs of having been cut along their necks and collarbones, were otherwise found in good condition, said Carlos Webster, who is leading excavations at the Chotuna-Chornancap camp.

The sprawling 235-acre (95-hectare) archeological site is 12 miles outside the coastal city of Chiclayo, near the ancient tomb of Sipan, which was one of the great finds of the last century. The sacrifices were made just decades before Spanish explorers arrived in what is now Peru.

Although archeologists regularly find evidence of human sacrifice from Incan and pre-Incan cultures, it is rare to find the remains of 33 people in one place, researchers said.

Scientists say human sacrifice was common within the Incan culture, which flourished immediately before the arrival of the Spanish in what is now parts of Peru, Chile and Ecuador between 1400 and the mid-1500s.

"Most of the remains belong to young women, around 15 years of age. One of them appears to have been pregnant because in her abdomen, the collarbone of a fetus, probably around 4 months, was found," Webster said of the latest find, made over the past year and a half.

"The majority (of the bodies) are in good condition -- skin tissues and hair have been preserved. They were found in a dry area more than 7 feet underground," he said.

Incan civilization is best known for the city of Machu Picchu, the ruins of which are Peru's top tourist destination and considered one of the new seven wonders of the world.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Dana Ford; Editing by Peter Cooney).


Human sacrifices found in Chotuna Chornancap archaeological site in Lambayeque

September 11, 2008. Source: Andina.

A group of 11 skeletons of sacrificed women, one of them with a fetus’ jawbone within the ribcage, was discovered in the he archeological complex of Huaca Chotuna, in the Peruvian northern province of Lambayeque.

The ages of the sacrificed women ranged between 15 and 25 years, reported the director of the Bruning National Museum, Carlos Wester La Torre.

He said that fetus’ jawbone possibly belonged to a woman in pregnancy who was sacrificed, which would indicate that Lambayeque culture performed human sacrifices even in pregnant women.

“The burial of a fetus is strange for us because it is one of the most complicated burials regarding human sacrifices registered in this zone”, he said.

Wester pointed out that the discovery is linked to the construction of an adobe building of the late period of the complex (14th century A.D.) and one superposition that implies the ritual burial of an architectural structure of the complex' middle occupation times (12th century), which is in good state of conservation.

“The burials have been located one over each other, sealed with a layer of soil up to the end”, he said adding that they were placed at different times, within a 6 to 8 month period for each burial.

Other significant characteristic of this discovery is that sacrificed individuals were previously exposed to open air, so they can pass through a decomposition stage and a purification process before to be buried.

In addition, a buried temple, with sand mounds, was found in the Huaca Chotuna area. This temple presents in one of the platforms a polychrome mural that would belong to the middle late period of Lambayeque culture (9th century A.D.)


Peru archaeologists find pre-Inca sacrificial tomb

September 10, 2008. Source: AP by Andrew Whalen

Archaeologists in Peru say they have discovered the jawbone of a fetus among the remains of a sacrificed woman in a pre-Inca tomb, suggesting the Lambayeque culture practiced the atypical sacrifice of pregnant women and their children.

The remains of the woman and unborn child were found in a tomb with three other sacrificed women and several sacrificial llamas, lead archaeologist Carlos Wester La Torre told The Associated Press.

In all, Wester La Torre's team reported finding the remains of seven women in two tombs at the Chotuna Chornancap archaeological site, each showing signs of having been cut at the throat.

The sacrifice of a pregnant woman "is very unusual" in the pre-Inca world, said respected Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva, who was not involved in the discovery.

"The concept of fertility was well respected, so this could represent a sacrifice for a very important religious event," he said Wednesday.

 Chotuna Chornancap is a sacred site of the Lambayeque culture, which flourished in northern Peru between 800 and 1350 A.D.

Wester La Torre said he believes the sacrifices were made to honor the reconstruction of the temple at Chotuna Chornancap or an important member of the Lambayeque culture possibly buried nearby.

The archaeologist said his team plans to continue excavating the site and hopes to find a possible central tomb.

Also Wednesday, archaeologist Luis Guevara said that eight tombs containing the remains of 21 bodies were discovered in a separate dig, in a temple in the Sacsayhuaman fortress in the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco. Guevara said the largest of the tombs contained 10 bodies, probably servants to Inca royalty buried in the temple.


  Chotuna, Pre-Inca Tomb

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Last updated: June 5, 2009