Ancient "Human Sacrifices" Found in Peru, Expert Says

June 4, 2008

Three possible human sacrifice victims have been found at a 4,000-year-old archaeological site in Peru, an archaeologist says.

The apparently mutilated, partial skeletons (see photos) could overturn the peaceful reputation of the Pre-Ceramic period (3000 B.C. to 1800 B.C.) in the Andes mountains—a time generally seen as free of ritualized killing and warfare.

Outside experts caution, however, that such claims remain unproven.

Alejandro Chu Barrera, who led the dig, said: "We found two pairs of legs—probably young females around their 20s—and the decapitated body of a young male in his 20s."

"They appear to have been ritually killed," he said.

Chu directs the Archaeological Project of Bandurria at the 133-acre (54-hectare) site 90 miles (140 kilometers) outside of present-day Lima.

The archaeologist told National Geographic News that his team had discovered the human offerings while excavating one of the circular plazas found at Bandurria.

"We don't know if the bodies were torn apart postmortem or premortem," he said.

Human Sacrifice?

Chu said the find is significant, because "many researchers have characterized the Pre-Ceramic period as very peaceful, with no evidence of the kind of violence that was seen during the [later] Moche [A.D. 100 to 800] time of human sacrifices and mutilations."

(Read about a tattooed Moche mummy and pyramid discovered in Peru.)

The newly discovered remains were left by people who were part of "a Pre-Ceramic society that had no exact name," Chu said.

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