Archaeologists find the skeletons of 227 children sacrificed in Peru; But why were they sacrificed?

In a biggest-ever discovery of sacrificed children, archaeologists in Peru has the 227 bodies they have unearthed from a site used by the pre-Columbian Chimu culture. The archaeologists who have been digging since last year at the huge sacrificial site in Huanchaco, a beachside tourist town north of the capital Lima were shocked finding the bodies.

“This is the biggest site where the remains of sacrificed children have been found,” chief archaeologist Feren Castillo told AFP on Tuesday. Castillo said the children, who were aged between four and 14, were sacrificed in a ritual to honour the Chimu culture’s gods. “They were sacrificed to appease the El Nino phenomenon,” and show signs of being killed during wet weather, he said adding that there may still be more to be found.

The Chimú culture was centred on Chimor with the capital city of Chan Chan, a large adobe city in the Moche Valley of present-day Trujillo, Peru. The culture arose about 900 AD, succeeding the Moche culture, and was later conquered by the Inca emperor Topa Inca Yupanqui around 1470, fifty years before the arrival of the Spanish in the region.

In Pacasmayo, the Moon deity was the greatest divinity. It was believed to be more powerful than the Sun, as it appeared by night and day, and it also controlled the weather and growth of crops. Devotees sacrificed animals and birds to the Moon, as well as their own children on piles of coloured cotton with offerings of fruit and chicha. They believed the sacrificed children would become deified and they were usually sacrificed around age five.

In 1997, members of an archaeological team discovered approximately 200 skeletal remains on the beach at Punta Lobos, Peru. Archaeologists believe that the sacrifice was performed as gratitude to the sea god Ni after they conquered the fishermen’s fertile seaside valley in 1350 A.D. In 2011 also archaeologists uncovered a number of human and animal skeletons in the village.