, , ,

Las LlamasThe pre-Columbian burial site of the Chimú civilization known as Las Llamas, in northern Peru contains the skeletons of 140 children who were between the ages of 5 and 14. Excavation work at the burial site started in 2011, but news of the findings was first published several days ago by National Geographic, which financed the dig.

These children were ritually sacrificed during a ceremony about 550 years ago. Originally dubbed Las Llamas because over 200 llamas were also discovered at the site, the new addition of human children remains is interpreted as a sacrifice for floods caused by the El Nino weather pattern ravaged the Peruvian coastline around the time. This interpretation is made because the children were buried facing the sea, whereas Llamas faced the east, towards Andes Mountains. The lead archeologists, Gabriel Prieto of Peru’s National University of Trujillo along with John Verano of Tulane University, said,

“They were possibly offering the gods the most important thing they had as a society, and the most important thing is children because they represent the future… Llamas were also very important because these people had no other beasts of burden, they were a fundamental part of the economy.”

Here is a gallery of photos: