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Ritual Sacrifice of 137 Children Found at 15th-Century Archaeological Site in Peru

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Bill Brown
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Archaeologists working at a 15th-century site in Peru have unearthed the remains of 137 children and 200 llamas in what’s now considered the largest mass child sacrifice known from the New World—and possibly of all time.

The researchers speculate it went something like this: One after one, the children were led to a clifftop overlooking the Pacific, the young llamas in tow.

There, amid a salty ocean breeze and the sound of lapping waves, the children were made to lie down as a priest—with a skilful hand—cut open their chests, reaching in to pull out their still-beating hearts.

The ritual sacrifice complete, the bloodied, limp bodies were placed carefully into individual graves, their faces positioned in a westerly direction toward the sea.

Three adults—two of whom suffered blunt force trauma to the head—were also killed.

The ritual sacrifice of so many children certainly seems barbaric—and it’s unquestionably horrific—but the civilisation involved, the Chimú people of Peru, were likely working in accordance with their spiritual and metaphysical beliefs.

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