Thursday, August 20, 2009

Human Sacrifices Found at Ancient Peru Site

June 4, 2008

This circular plaza holds possible evidence of human sacrifice at the 4,000-year-old Peruvian archaeological site of Bandurria, thought to be one of the oldest urban settlements in the Americas. Human remains have been found at the site before. But only recently have scientists discovered human bones bearing what could be the signs of ritualized violence. (Read full story.) If laboratory analysis confirms that hypothesis, it would upend theories that the so-called Pre-Ceramic period (3000 B.C. to 1800 B.C.) was largely free of ritualized killings. “It is a truly incredible site, regardless of how the recent human remains come to be interpreted,” said Shelia Pozorski, an anthropologist at the University of Texas-Pan American.

This apparently decapitated skeleton, of a man who died in his 20s, was recently found at the Bandurria archaeological site in Peru, scientists announced in May 2008. Alejandro Chu, a Peruvian archaeologist, said the victim's head has not been found. Chu suspects the man was the victim of ritualized violence. A U.S. bone expert is slated to study cut marks on the neck vertebrae. “One needs to prove by cut marks or other physical evidence that a body was dismembered [before death],” said Tulane University anthropologist John Verano, who was not involved in the new discovery.“Even then, theoretically, one could be dealing with sacrifice, execution, murder, or any of a number of human behaviors.”

Two pairs of legs (one of which is shown here) were recently found in Bandurria, Peru, archaeologists announced in May 2008. “The legs probably belonged to a young female in her 20s,” said Alejandro Chu, Bandurria's lead archaeologist. Chu hypothesizes that the women were victims of ritualized killings, and has summoned a U.S. bone expert to study cut marks more closely. If Chu's theory proves correct, the skeletons would be the first documented evidence of ritualistic killing in the Pre-Ceramic era (3000 B.C. to 1800 B.C.)—period thought to be free of such violent practices in the Andes region.Chu said the people belonged to “a pre-ceramic society that had no exact name.”