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Concept: Child sacrifice


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.

Concepts: Bolivia, Argentina, Andes, Ecuador, Peru, Spanish Empire, Human sacrifice, Child sacrifice


This study investigates two key variables-residential context and subsistence-among sacrificial victims dating to the Late Horizon (A.D. 1450-1532) in the Huaca de los Sacrificios at the Chotuna-Chornancap Archaeological Complex in north coastal Peru. We investigate whether aspects of sacrifice in this distant coastal province mirrored that found in Inca heartland contexts such as the capacocha, or remained more typical of coastal sacrificial traditions. Stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope values were characterized in bone carbonate, bone collagen, and hair keratin to estimate geographic residence during the decade before death and diet in the decade, versus months, before death. Bone δ(18) O(carbonate) values have a mean (±SD) of 26.8 ± 1.1%, bone δ(13) C(carbonate) values -6.7 ± 1.7%, and bone δ(13) C(collagen) values 11.8 ± 1.3%; bone δ(15) N(collagen) values have a mean of 11.5 ± 1.3%. Combined hair δ(13) C(keratin) values have a mean of -12.8 ± 1.6%, and hair δ(15) N(keratin) values 10.8 ± 1.3%. In contrast to contemporaneous coastal and highland contexts, we are unable to identify immigrants among the sacrificed individuals or changes in diet that indicate provisioning with a standardized diet leading up to death. Instead, results suggest that victims were local to the area, but consumed moderately variable diets consistent with local subsistence patterns. These findings suggest a distinct pattern of human sacrifice in the Late Horizon and underscore the regional and temporal variation in sacrificial practices in the central Andes. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Collagen, Carbon, Andes, Mesoamerica, Sacrifice, Human sacrifice, Child sacrifice, Jephthah