Skip to comments.City where sacrificial slaughter was way of life
Posted on 09/02/2006 1:28:10 PM PDT by wagglebee
As they waited to be sacrificed outside a temple, the victims made no attempt to escape their fate: their throats were cut, they were decapitated and their hearts ripped out.
Their hands were not tied and they offered no resistance to the sacrificial knife. A seed containing a potent drug was used to paralyse their bodies, leaving the victims aware of a terrifying ritual that has been revealed for the first time by a dig in the vast pre-Colombian city of Túcume in northern Peru.
Archaeologists working in the ruined city of giant pyramids have discovered one of the largest sites of human sacrifice in South America.
So far, the team has uncovered the remains of 119 men, women and children as young as five who were hacked to death outside a temple.
Archaeologists believe that the sacrifices reached a bloody crescendo in the final days of the city, as its rulers struggled to stave off catastrophe at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors, who arrived in the area in the 1530s. The pyramid city has been abandoned ever since.
"The discovery of these human sacrifices outside the temple is one of the most important in the history of Peruvian archaeology," said Alfredo Narvaez, the chief archaeologist at the site.
Until recently there has been little archaeological evidence of human sacrifice from the ancient Andes. Historians have had to rely on accounts written by Spanish invaders and grisly depictions on pottery and art.
In the mid 1990s the bodies of individual children sacrificed by the Incas high in the Andes were uncovered, as were the bodies of around 110 men of fighting age, probably captured warriors, sacrificed by the Moche civilisation.
But the picture now emerging from Túcume is one of sacrifice as a way of life which could be carried out on young and old, men and women.
The slaughter was uncovered last summer when Bernarda Delgado, from the Museum of Túcume, and anthropologist J Marla Toyne, from the University of Tulane, led excavations in the blistering heat alongside the longest pyramid in the world, Huaca Larga, a colossal structure of mud bricks half a mile long.
Their investigation features in a BBC series, Lost Cities of the Ancients, to be shown next week. They opened up a 33ft area around a temple that was built around 1,000 years ago, when Túcume became an important ritual centre for the Lambeyeque civilisation. They were confronted by 73 shallow burial pits.
"Of the 119 individuals we recovered from this small area 90 per cent of them show cut marks in the neck and throat suggesting it was almost a systematic execution," said Toyne.
Knife marks show that the human victims had their throats cut, and were decapitated between the second and third neck vertebra. Finally the sacrificial knife was used to saw open their chests to remove the hearts.
Toyne, sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, found no evidence that the victims had been tied up or that they had fought to avoid this brutal death, and the clean cut marks showed no evidence of individuals moving to avoid the knife.
Narvaez believes the likely explanation is that the victims were drugged before being killed. He found amala seeds at the temple, which contain a chemical that leaves the victim lucid but paralysed and powerless to resist.
The first sacrifices outside the temple were animals lamas and alpacas. Around 60 have been recovered. Later humans were ritually executed and buried in pits in marked contrast to other discoveries of sacrifice where bodies were often left in the open for vultures to pick on.
But of the greater significance is the temple where they were sacrificed, which has yielded a treasure trove including hundreds of silver miniatures. "It is the first time in Peruvian archaeology that we have found a temple with this extraordinary context that hasn't been looted," said Narvaez.
The finds give an important new insight into the rituals by which the people of ancient Peru believed they could connect with the vengeful gods who controlled their destinies. Sometimes offering silver or lamas was enough. At others, only a human would suffice.
Narvaez's theory is that the increase in human sacrifice was linked to the greatest upheaval ever to hit South America, the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. That set off chaos and fear in Túcume, leading to a bloody crescendo as more and more blood was offered to the gods.
The sacrifices failed to stop the Spanish advance. The city of Túcume was burnt by its inhabitants and then abandoned. They never returned.
I'm sure it irritates the left to no end to admit that the "indigenous" people were not exactly peace loving.
So the Spanish came and "imposed their culture" on these human-sacrifing, torturing peoples. Kind of like we are doing in the middle east?
Come on. We can't be judgmental. Maybe the Muslims were inspired by such child sacrifice.
oops,,,sacrifing=sacrificing. Should have just said "uncivilized"!
That just about sums it up.
But who taught the Muslims to be pedophiles.
Kinda like LOREDO...?
Yes, the arrival of evil Western civilization's influences caused all this - and by extention, it's all President Bush's fault!
I had an interesting feeling when watching the PBS series "Conquistadores"
with host Michael Wood.
Wood described how Cortes and some of his officers were taken to the
killing room at the top of one of the temples.
Montezuma tried to give Cortez and his buddies a lesson in Aztec theology,
explaining how well ripping the hearts from their victims made the Sun happy
and kept the world going round.
The speech was obviously intended to sell Cortez on the Aztec worldview.
Wood related at how absolutly angry Cortez and his buddies got when they
heard this "Isn't sacrifice by ripping out hearts GREAT!" speech.
And I thought of how absolutely angry I got in the days following 9-11.
And how, even if you aren't a noble person (like Cortez) and you come
from an imperfect society (like 1500s Spain)...
you can still spot the savages.
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I've always thought that if someone is recommending sacrifices, then they should be first in line.
Re: Hillary "We're going to take things from you for your own good".
And yet, somehow as a Spaniard, 500 years on, I am supposed to feel sorry and ashamed that my forebearers brought these people Civilization and Christianity? Sorry libs, European Civilization and Christianity is the highest of Human acheivement.
I read an awful lot of negative ajectives in this article. Where is the tolerance and appreciation for multicultural diversity? I mean, who are we, after all, to judge much older nations and their cultural practices. For an upstart nation only a few hundred years old, we certainly could learn a lot from the elder wisdom of a people living much closer to our mother the earth than we do. The problem with the European Judeo-Christian experience is that it critically judges the entire world from its own perspective rather than learning to accept the totality of human experience as a rich resource to respect and learn from.
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Why should it? They call the muslimes peace loving.