Archaeologists have revealed the discovery of a mass burial pit, comprising of over 100 bodies, near the ancient Huaca Las Ventanas pyramid in northern Peru.
The grave is believed to date back to pre-Inca times, when religious sacrifices were a common occurrence. Additionally, early tests indicate the site belonged to the Sicans - a pre-Hispanic people believed to have lived in the area, from 750 A.D. to approximately 1400 A.D.
However, archaeologists have not confirmed if the new find indicates a culture of burial rituals or mass sacrifice; while Sican people are known to have followed various funerary practices, they rarely indulged in human sacrifices, unlike the pre-Inca Chimo people, who worshipped the Moon and sacrificed their own children to pray for the fertile oceans and lands.
The recent discovery, however, contradicts earlier accounts of the Sican culture and raises questions about their burial practices and inclinations to human sacrifices.
All the dead in the newfound pit were likely willing participants from local communities engaged in a ritual that celebrated death so that new life could emerge in the world, Haagen Klaus, a bio-archaeologist at Utah Valley University in Orem, who is studying the finds, was quoted as saying by National Geographic News.
Mass ritual sacrifice appears to be the most likely interpretation of the discovery, he added.