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Deciphering the Headless Sacrificial Victims

At a 2011 excavation of the capital of the Sicán people, archaeologists found a pit with 20 severed human heads as well as the severed heads of ceramic figurines. Many of the severed figurine heads depict the Sicán deity, which typically adorns funerary vessels. The pit also contained ceramic heads of llamas, pumas, monkeys, turtles, and bears.

It appears the Sicán purposefully also included broken ceramic heads. “When a ceramic vessel or bottle is broken through an accidental process, the breakage patterns tend to be random. What we see here is evidence of extremely careful, repetitive, and very intentional breakage of these things,” Klaus says.

Based on the art styles on the ceramic vessels, the team thinks the bodies were placed in the pit over a series of three events that occurred between A.D. 900 and 1100.

Text Source: Roach, John. "Mysterious Mass Sacrifice Found Near Ancient Peru Pyramid." National Geographic News December 2011.
Photograph by:
  • Haagen Klaus