1Department of Anthropology, Tulane University, 2Asociación Tullucamoyoc, Lima, Peru, 3Department of Anthropology, Yale University
March 26, 2015 11:45, Grand Ballroom C
Multiple discoveries of human sacrifices have been made in northern coastal Peru over the past decade. These contexts show substantial variability in the demographic profile of victims, the ways in which they were killed, and the location and manner in which bodies were buried. Careful contextual and bioarchaeological examination of these assemblages is required if we are to properly interpret this growing corpus of data.
Here we report on the bioarchaeological analysis of a mass sacrifice of children and llamas discovered near the western periphery of the monumental city of Chan Chan, in the Moche river valley of northern coastal Peru. Archaeological evidence and radiocarbon dates suggest a single sacrificial event, circa AD 1400, involving at least 90 children and 150 llamas. Skeletal analysis of the 86 complete juvenile remains was completed in 2014, focusing on defining the demographic profile of the sample and the manner in which victims were killed. The children range in age from 4 to 15 years, as estimated by dental calcification and eruption and by epiphyseal union. Distinct forms of cranial modification indicate that this is an ethnically diverse sample. Transverse sectioning of sternal elements was identified in 83.7% of individuals. Associated cut marks, displacement, plastic deformation, and perimortem fractures of the ribs consistent with forceful opening of the thoracic cavity were found in approximately 27% of the victims. This manner of sacrifice, transverse bilateral thoracotomy, has not previously been identified in Andean South America.
Research funded by the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society and Tulane University’s Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies.