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Archaeological, radiological, and biological evidence offer insight into Inca child sacrifice

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 31 Jul 2013

AS Wilson, EL Brown, C Villa, N Lynnerup, A Healey, MC Ceruti, J Reinhard, CH Previgliano, FA Araoz, J Gonzalez Diez and T Taylor
Examination of three frozen bodies, a 13-y-old girl and a girl and boy aged 4 to 5 y, separately entombed near the Andean summit of Volcán Llullaillaco, Argentina, sheds new light on human sacrifice as a central part of the Imperial Inca capacocha rite, described by chroniclers writing after the Spanish conquest. The high-resolution diachronic data presented here, obtained directly from scalp hair, implies escalating coca and alcohol ingestion in the lead-up to death. These data, combined with archaeological and radiological evidence, deepen our understanding of the circumstances and context of final placement on the mountain top. We argue that the individuals were treated differently according to their age, status, and ritual role. Finally, we relate our findings to questions of consent, coercion, and/or compliance, and the controversial issues of ideological justification and strategies of social control and political legitimation pursued by the expansionist Inca state before European contact.
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Peru, Spanish Empire, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Child sacrifice, Human sacrifice, Andes
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