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Archaeologists have discovered what might be the world's largest single incident of mass child sacrifice in a tiny beach town on Peru's northern coast, reports said.

Chan Chan, the capial of the Chimu Empire in what is now Trujillo, Peru.

"We now know there was child sacrifice on a massive scale in ancient Peru, in a manner not seen before in South America", said Verano.

Ongoing scientific investigations into the Peru site, formally called Huanchaquito-Las Llamas, are being carried out by an worldwide team funded by the National Geographic Society.

The investigation, led by Nat Geo's Gabriel Prieto and John Verano, a physical anthropologist from Louisiana's Tulane University, linked the site to the ChimĂș civilization, a pre-Columbian society that worshipped the moon.

Some 200 llamas were also sacrificed as part of the ritual, the researchers found. The llamas were less than 18 months and were buried facing the Andes mountains on the east.

Along with the children's remains, archaeologists uncovered the bodies of one man and two women near the sacrificial site.

The site was first discovered by Gabriel Prieto of the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo in 2011, when he was excavating a 3,500-year-old temple down the road from the sacrifice site.

The site, archaeologists said held evidence of what could be the world's largest single case of child sacrifice and contains the skeletons of 140 children who were aged between five and 14 when they were ritually sacrificed during a ceremony. When discovered, some of the human and animal victims seemed to have had their chests cut open, perhaps to have their hearts removed, according to Nat Geo.

Aside from the astounding number of child and llama skeletons, the 7,500-square-foot site also yielded the remains of three adults, which had been less ceremoniously entombed and which experts believe may have been involved in the mass sacrifice.

Revealing further details of the burial site, researchers noted that the site was apparently built by the ChimĂș empire and it is thought the children were sacrificed as floods caused by the El Nino weather pattern ravaged the Peruvian coastline. But the archaeological record suggests they succumbed to an Incan invasion only a few decades after the sacrifices occurred. But the mass sacrifice of children is something that has rarely been documented.

Based on evidence from layers of dried mud, the report states it's believed that all the human and animal sacrifices took place at the same time. "Maybe there was a need for a new type of sacrificial victim".

"This just may be the tip of the iceberg".


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