New Clues About Human Sacrifices at Ancient Peruvian Temple
Evidence suggests the Moche ritually slaughtered war captives.
Human-sacrifice rituals at an ancient Moche temple in Peru likely featured the killing of war captives from distant valleys, according to an analysis of bones and teeth at the site.
The human remains—mutilated, dismembered, and buried in pits—help explain territorial struggles among the Moche, who ruled Peru's arid coast from around 100 A.D. to 850 A.D. (See also "Moche Burials Uncovered.")
Debate among scholars over Moche human sacrifices has centered on the question of whether they were ritual killings of elites or of war prisoners, says archaeologist John Verano of Tulane University in New Orleans, one of the authors of the report, available online and in an upcoming issue of Journal of Archaeological Science.
"They look like war captives," Verano