AFP and Bryony Jewell, Daily Mail, August 28, 2019
The remains of 227 children have been discovered at a site in Peru in what experts believe is the world’s largest sacrifice site.
Researchers have been digging at the site in Huanchaco, a beach-side tourist town north of the capital Lima, since last year.
Chief archaeologist Feren Castillo said the children, who were aged between four and 14, were sacrificed in a ritual to honor the pre-Colombian Chimu culture’s gods.
It is thought that they may have been killed to try and stop bad weather known as the El Nino phenomenon in the region.
‘This is the biggest site where the remains of sacrificed children have been found,’ said Castillo.
‘They were sacrificed to appease the El Nino phenomenon,’ and show signs of being killed during wet weather, he said.
El Nino, which means the little boy in Spanish or The Christ Child when capitalised, is a climate change pattern involving the unusual warming of water in the Pacific Ocean.
Fishermen in the 19th century started using the term when they noticed waters warming around Christmas time.
This event is associated with adverse effects on fishing, agriculture and local weather from Ecuador to Chile.
El Nino occurs irregularly and cannot be predicted in the same way as other weather patterns such as tides meaning that it could cause chaos for communities.
After a discovery of 269 children and 466 llamas in two sites near Huanchaco earlier this year, researchers also looked to El Nino for an explanation.
They said that the weather change would have rattled the state and the sacrifices could have been an attempt to persuade the gods to stop the rain, reports National Geographic Magazine.
Gabriel Prieto, a professor of archaeology from the National University of Trujillo, said: ‘This number of children, this number of animals — it would have been a massive investment on behalf of the state.’
Castillo added that there may still be more sacrificed children to be found at the new site in Huanchaco.
‘It’s uncontrollable, this thing with the children. Wherever you dig, there’s another one,’ Castillo said.
The children’s remains were found in a position facing the sea. Some still had skin and hair.
Huanchaco was a site where many child sacrifices took place during the time of the Chimu culture, whose apogee was between 1200 and 1400.
Archaeologists first found children’s bodies at the dig site in the town’s Pampa la Cruz neighborhood in June 2018, unearthing 56 skeletons.
Pampa la Cruz is a short distance from Huanchaquito, where the remains of 140 sacrificed children and 200 llamas were found in April 2018.
The Chimu civilization extended along the Peruvian coast to Ecuador but disappeared in 1475 after it was conquered by the Inca empire.