One of the ice mummies: a child brought to the gods as human sacrifices by the Incas.
(Lima) The work of archaeologists in Peru was reported at the end of September without any direct connection with the Amazon Synod. It was a research activity that has particular relevance in view of the recent, so pervasive presence of Pachamama portrayals.
The Pachamama, which literally means "World Mother," rather than "Mother Earth," was a deity of South America that ruled over one of several worlds (Pacha means world, Pachakuna are the worlds), which also means cosmos and era.
The Incas, the high culture of South America encountered by the Spaniards as they explored the newly discovered continent, worshiped the Pachamama as a dragon goddess. They sacrificed animals to their gods and other deities, as well as humans on special occasions. The human sacrifices that could be proven so far were all children.
The archaeologists now know so much: These children, who were sacrificed to the pagan gods by the Incas and who were found by archaeologists on the tops of volcanoes, could come from different parts of the empire. The archaeologists, especially Polish, know at least a dozen places in Peru where the Incas sacrificed some 500 years ago to their gods on the tops of mountains or volcanoes. These human sacrifices were part of the Capacocha ritual.
Dagmara Socha, bio-archaeologist of the Centro de Estudios Andinos (CEAC) of the University of Warsaw in Cuzco, studied together with Rudi Chavez Perea, director of the Santuario Andinos Museum of the Catholic University of Santa Maria (Universidad Catolica de Santa Maria) in Arequipa (Peru), carried out the project on the remains of these children for several years.
This year, researchers focused on the children sacrifices placed on two volcanoes, the 6,288 meter high Ampato and the 5,665 meter high Picchu Picchu. Several decades ago, the American anthropologist Johan Reinhard found the mummies of these children in a sitting position on stone platforms. At present, these ice mummies are kept refrigerated at the Museo Sancturios Andinos.
According to Dr. Socha believed the Incas that at the time of sacrifice, children would become mediators between the gods and humanity. The Incas, said the scientist, considered the children as pure and immaculate. Therefore the human sacrifices had to be impeccable and virginal. Accordingly, they were carefully selected. Their status should have made it easier for the gods to make concrete decisions.
However, the scientists do not yet know the exact criteria in choosing the sacrificed children. Socha told Szymon Zdziebłowski of Science in Poland, a website of the Polish Ministry of Science, that they needed "extraordinary qualities" such as beauty or a certain social background. In one of the girls, whose remains were found on a platform on the Picchu Picchu, the researchers found a deliberate deformation of the head, which was extended specifically. It is well known that this practice was not applied in the mountains, but in the plains and coasts of the Inca Empire. This could mean that this girl came from a family living in a region far from the place of sacrifice.
Using their teeth, the scientists were able to determine that the girl had either starved for a certain time or had suffered a severe trauma at the age of three. At the time, the girl was allegedly brought to Cusco by her parents to be prepared for her offering for three years. The trauma may have been caused by the separation from the parents, either first in Cuzco or already at home. Then the child would have been brought to the capital by representatives of the theocratic Inca Empire.
Some of the mortal remains of six children examined by Dagmara Socha this year were mummified, if not all. Other remains are poorly preserved and some have burn marks. Socha explains that the Incas erected sacrificial platforms in places exposed to lightning. There is ample evidence that these platforms have been repeatedly hit by lightning. In the cosmology of the Incas, lightning represented
connections between the various god-worlds (Pachakuna) and the human world.
While the altitude of the sacrificial sites meant that the sacrificed children were preserved as permafrost corpses, so-called ice mummies, some were indeed very well preserved, this is not always due to the lightning strikes for their clothes.
According to the Incas, a person struck by lightning was being bestowed with great honor, as a god expressed interest in him.
The mummies studied by the Polish archaeologist are now in a similar state as before their discovery. The mummies did not have to be moved. Scientists used X-rays to minimize interference with the remains. This made it possible to discover also many objects that were given to the children as grave goods: gold brooches for fastening the robes, wooden objects such as ritual cups, but also a gold tube and even petals.
The best-known example of a surviving human sacrifice of the Incas is the boy from El Plomo, who was found in 1954 near the summit of the 5424 meter high Cerro El Plomo in Chile. At the time of his sacrifice, he was eight years old. His skin was soft at the time of the discovery, as if he had just passed away. The sacrifice was almost 500 years back. The boy then was mummified by being transported to lower altitudes and becomes almost rock hard.
All in all, 192 sacrificial ceremonial sites have been located on 192 mountains in the former Inca Empire. So far, 27 surviving human sacrifices of the Capacocha ritual have been discovered on 14 mountains. All were found over 5400 meters above sea level, which explains their conservation.
The Capacocha ritual was part of the religiously motivated state cult in the Inca Empire. The boy of El Plomo was sacrificed after 1483, when central Chile was incorporated into the Inca Empire, and before 1533, when the Spaniards reached the area and put an end to the human sacrifices.
According to the scientists, the children were stunned with coca leaves and fermented drinks before being "buried" alive. At least in the high-altitude sacrificial sites, they quickly froze, largely maintaining the squatting posture in which they had to sit. In this position they were then worshiped - eerily scary - like living dead.
Don Felipe Waman Puma de Ayala, an Indio, born around 1550 in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru, in what is now southern Peru, wrote a history of more than a thousand pages of Andean peoples, including 398 drawings (see illustration) ). His mother tongue was Quechua, the language of the Inca Empire. As a boy, he learned Spanish. One of his drawings also shows how a child sacrificed on a mountain is worshiped. His chronicle ends with his death in 1615. The description describes that in pre-Christian (pre-Columbian) time, human sacrifice was common. The mentioned drawing expresses this, but also that at the beginning of the 17th century the sacrificed children were still worshiped by some of the Indians.
In detail, Don Felipe Waman portrays Puma de Ayala's sacrificial customs for the various deities, including Pachakamaq. All were sacrificed in addition to other offerings and children in greater or lesser numbers.
Its primer Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno was made fully accessible on the Internet a few years ago by the Copenhagen-based Congolese Bibliotek, in whose possession it is located.
Basically, it should be not that in past epochs ago, more or less, human sacrifices existed in all peoples and cultures in pre-Christian times. That the true God does not want human sacrifices, He made clear already in Genesis, the First Book of the Bible, in the prevented sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham. In the time of Abraham, and long after that, human sacrifices in the Middle East were obviously common practice. In Divine Pedagogy, the great work of civilization, God led Abraham and his descendants away from human sacrifice for the time being because of the incomprehension of human beings, as an intermediate stage, as an animal sacrifice, although God Himself did not want that. Where Christianity came, this cruelty was overcome, which illustrates its outstanding civilizational significance - and makes the contrast to the return of pagan amazons as the Pachamama in the context of the Amazon Synod all the more evident.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Picture: Primer Nueva Corónica y Buen
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