Peru

Mysterious Mass Sacrifice Found Near Ancient Peru Pyramid

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 28, 2011   View Article

An apparent ritual mass sacrifice—including decapitations and a royal beer bash—is coming to light near a pre-Inca pyramid in northern Peru, archaeologists say.

Excavations next to the ancient Huaca Las Ventanas pyramid first uncovered bodies in August, and more have been emerging since then from a 50-by-50-foot (15-by-15-meter) pit.

The pyramid is part of the Sicán site, the capital of the Lambayeque people—also known as the Sicán—who ruled Peru’s northern coast from about A.D. 900 to 1100.

Inca Empire built on corn … and poop

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 23, 2011   View Article

The seeds of the Inca Empire were planted about 2,700 years ago when a warm spell combined with piles of llama excrement allowed maize agriculture to take root high up in the South American Andes, according to a new study.

“They were constructing fields and weeding them. And probably trading took off, made possible by llama caravans transporting goods, such as maize, coca leaves, salt and a ceremonial product called cinnabar,” Alex Chepstow-Lusty of the French Institute of Andean Studies in Lima told me Sunday in an email.

The finding is inferred by a record of pollen and mites in a core of mud taken from a small lake located at about 11,000 feet up in the Andes surrounded by agricultural terraces and next to an ancient trading route that connected tropical forest and mountain communities.

“Chilling” Child Sacrifices Found at Prehistoric Site

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 23, 2010   View Article

The skeletons of dozens of children killed as part of a ritual bloodletting sacrifice a thousand years ago have been discovered in northern Peru, a new study says.

The remains are the earliest evidence of ritualized blood sacrifice and mutilation of children that has so far been seen in the South American Andes, according to study leader Haagen Klaus.

Seeds of a paralytic and hallucinogenic plant called Nectandra, which also prevents blood clotting, were found with the skeletons, suggesting the children were drugged before their throats were slit and their chests cut open.

Photos: Mummy Bundles, Child Sacrifices Found on Pyramid

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 25, 2010   View Article

A rare undisturbed tomb atop an ancient pyramid in Lima, Peru, has yielded four 1,150-year-old, well-bundled mummies of the Wari culture, archaeologists announced on October 20.

The mummies include what appear to be an elite woman and three children, who may have been sacrificed to accompany her into the afterlife, according to Isabel Flores Espinosa, excavation director at the Huaca Pucllana archaeological site.

The Wari civilization spread along the central coast of Peru beginning around A.D. 700. At Huaca Pucllana, they replaced the Lima culture before being replaced themselves by the ascendant Inca.

Odd Pyramid Had Rooftop Homes, Ritual Sacrifices?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 21, 2010   View Article

Yes, it’s yielded human remains—including five females who may have been ritually sacrificed. But it’s the signs of life that make a half-excavated Peruvian pyramid of the Moche culture stand out, archaeologists say.

“Often these pyramidal mounds were built as mortuaries more than anything else,” said excavation co-leader Edward Swenson.

“In most instances [a pyramid] is not where people live, it is not where they were cooking their food,” the University of Toronto archaeologist added.

But the newly exposed 1,400-year-old flat-topped pyramid supported residences for up to a couple dozen elites, who oversaw and perhaps took part in copper production at the site, evidence suggests.

Pictures: Human Sacrifice Chamber Discovered in Peru

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 30, 2010   View Article

Found in Peru within a chamber used for an ancient human-sacrifice rite called the presentation, this woman was likely an offering to the site, archaeologists say.

Announced last week, the 197-foot-long (60-meter-long) sacrificial chamber or passageway at the Huaca Bandera archaeological site belonged to the Moche culture, a pre-Columbian agricultural civilization that flourished on the north coast of Peru from about 100 B.C. to AD 800.

The several burials found in the sacrifice chamber “are from a time apparently after the site had been abandoned but nevertheless continued to receive offerings to maintain the status of the elite sanctuary,” archaeologist Carlos Wester La Torre, leader of the excavation, said in an email translated from Spanish.

Mercury Pollution’s Oldest Traces Found in Peru

Publication: National Geographic magazine   Date: May 18, 2009   View Article

Demand for the mercury compound vermilion was strong enough to support a large-scale mercury mining industry in the Andes as far back as 1400 B.C., according to a new study.

A bright red pigment, vermilion was used in ancient Andean rituals and is frequently found adorning gold and silver ceremonial objects in ancient burials of kings and nobles in South America.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach