Ancient Peru: Dozens of Tombs Reveal Child Sacrifices and Hoard of Archaeological Treasures

Archaeologists in Peru have unearthed the remains of at least 12 children believed to have been sacrificed by the ancient Chimú civilisation, Reuters has reported.

The team also uncovered a hoard of more than 100 treasures in the Trujillo region, where 47 tombs have been found.

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Archaeologists uncover tombs and human remains in Trujillo, Peru, March 21, 2018. Douglas Juarez/Reuters

Victor Campos, director at the archaeological site, said the children were found with cuts to their chest area, Reuters reported. These cuts, researchers believe, may have been an attempt to break the ribs of the children—possibly to remove their hearts.

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The sacrifice of humans was relatively common in pre-Columbian societies, Reuters reported. These new discoveries clarify ancient Chimú practices.

Campos thinks the civilization may have performed sacrifices to encourage the gods to bring rain to this arid region of Peru. "What they (Chimú) wanted to do with the presence of the children in this arid area is to attract rain, to improve cultivation," he said.

Pottery from Chimu culture tombs are seen at the archaeological site in Trujillo, Peru, March 21, 2018. Douglas Juarez/Douglas Juarez

Originating in around 900 C.E., the Chimú civilization came to rule much of the coast of Peru before it was eventually defeated by the Inca civilization in the 15th century. The capital city Chan Chan is recognised by UNESCO as "an absolute masterpiece of town planning," once home to sophisticated agricultural and water management systems.

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The Chimú are known for their exquisite ceramics and and metalwork. The civilization created everything from cups and knives to figurines and bracelets using metals including gold, copper and bronze.

Peru is a prolific site of archaeological discovery. In recent months, researchers have discovered chambers and thrones linked to the ancient Moche civilization and more than 150 spearheads dated between 9,000 and 12,000 years old.