Archaeologists in Peru have found the naturally mummified remains of five llamas that were sacrificed to the Inca gods about 500 years ago.
Mummified llamas are still adorned with the brightly colored ropes, red paint, and feathers that the Incas adorned them before they were sent to their death, presumably by burying these animals alive.
The find is so rare that although archaeologists have excavated the remains of the Inca Empire (also written Inka) on the Pacific coast of South America for over a century, “none of them” found anything like this, “said researcher Lidio Valdez, assistant professor at the institute in Anthropology and Archeology from the University of Calgary in Canada, across from 45Seconds.fr.
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Valdez and his colleagues found the mummified lamas (Lama Glama) in Tambo Viejo, an archaeological site on the Pacific coast of Peru, in 2018. Archaeologists have found llama mummies buried under clay in two of the many buildings that surround the site’s two plazas. Four llamas – one brown and three white – were buried together in one building, and only one brown llama was found underground in the other building, Valdez said.
“In the first case, it looks like there are more llamas, but the looters have disrupted the original context,” Valdez said. “The lamas were buried facing east,” he noted, probably because the sun that rises in the east was an important Inca deity.
Not only did these sacrifices honor the gods who the Incas associated with successful harvests, healthy herds, and war victories, but they may also have popularized the Inca Empire in local culture as sacrifices’ accompanied by a great festival.
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The young lamas were richly adorned; Long, red, yellow, green, and purple-colored string tassels were attached to the ears of the llamas. These camel fiber ropes were “tied to the ears just for the occasion,” Valdez said. Camels also wore necklaces with colored cords around their necks.
“The decorations suggest that the offers were very special,” said Valdez. Indeed, historical documents indicate that the brown lamas were sacrificed to the creator Viracocha, while the white lamas in the sun were the main deity of Inca. “”
Some of the lamas had painted faces. All three white llamas had a red dot on the top of the head and a red line that ran down from each eye to the nose, the researchers wrote in the study. In addition, one of the white llamas was buried with a guinea pig (Cavia porcellus), and the three white llamas were buried with the feathers of a tropical bird attached to 10 cm long sticks. The three white llamas were also buried near pits filled with corn on the cob, lima beans, and guinea pigs, as well as a bundle of cinder (called a lime) that was associated with chewing coca sacred by the Incas; It is also the raw material for making cocaine.
After the llamas had been decorated, their limbs were folded under their bodies and tied together with long ropes, also made of camel fiber. Archaeologists have not found any cuts on the throats or diaphragms of these llamas, so it is possible that they were buried alive. ” Yes [this idea is] Right, this practice would match the evidence for the burial of living human victims, ”the researchers wrote in the study.
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Archaeologists have found other Inca sites that contain animal and human sacrifice, but the new find is one of the best preserved, said Susan deFrance, a professor of anthropology at the University of Florida who No. was not involved in the new study. Other victim finds are not as “complete, not as beautiful as this one where you can tell the color of the dress and all of the material associated with it,” she told 45Seconds.fr. “So it’s pretty rare. “”
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Sacrifice and feast
Archaeologists have found a large earth furnace in another building near the lama victims. “Its presence suggests that the ritual celebrations resulted in food being shared in the form of feasts,” the researchers wrote in the study.
Perhaps this animal sacrifice had a greater purpose; This could have helped maintain the Incas’ power over their empire, Valdez said. Nine different radiocarbon dates indicate that these lamas were killed around 1500 or towards the end of the Inca occupation of the Tambo Viejo site. A few decades earlier, the empire had peacefully integrated the southern coast of Peru into its territory. Then, according to Spanish documents from the Colombian era, the Incas built an administrative center in Tambo Viejo.
“The Inca didn’t just go to Tambo Viejo to bring animal sacrifices. Instead, the victims were part of much larger celebrations that included food and drink sharing, all of which were state sponsored, ”Valdez said. In the end, food sharing was a good strategy that allowed Inca to forge lasting political alliances and mutual relationships with the newly conquered peoples, ”Valdez said.
Llamas aren’t the only major animal sacrifice in Tambo Viejo. Previous research by Valdez revealed the discovery of several dozen sacrificed guinea pigs, also adorned with brightly colored earrings and necklaces, according to a 2019 study in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. The early Spaniards in South America found that the Incas sacrificed these animals by the hundreds, but this is one of the first direct evidence that this really happened, Valdez said.
The study was published online in Antiquity magazine on Thursday (October 22nd).
Originally posted on 45Seconds.fr.
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