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article imageInca children 'fattened up' before sacrifice

By Chris V. Thangham     Oct 2, 2007 in Environment
The Incas “fattened up” the children for more than a year before they were sacrificed in the Inca rituals. Analysis of hair samples showed a distinct difference in their diets according to researchers from the University of Bradford.
The University of Bradford researchers studied the hair samples from the heads and in small bags accompanying four mummies of children sacrificed in Inca rituals.
The children’s hair was cut first a year and then six months before they were killed. The researchers analyzed the chemicals and calculated the diet of the children.
The researchers found that the children’s diet was initially focused on vegetables such as the potato indicating a peasant sort of life, but in the last year they found it was enriched with corn, an elite food and protein probably from Ilama meat.
Andrew Wilson of the University of Bradford said in a statement. Given the surprising change in their diets and the symbolic cutting of their hair, it appears that various events were staged in which the status of the children was raised.”
He said it was like a countdown to their death and were fed rich foods prior to being sacrificed.
Further analysis of the hair samples showed in their last three to four months, the children began their pilgrimage from the Cuzco, the Inca capital. The scientists are not certain how they were sacrificed but think they may have been fed with maize beer and coca leaves.
The Inca lived in the area that is now Peru and were conquered by the invading Spanish in the early 1500s.
Their findings are reported in the current issue of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”.
The scientists are not certain how the children died, but think they were given maize beer and coca leaves. The coca leaves helped the children to endure the cold, which might have been one of the key factors causing them to die with hypothermia at the top of the mountains.
Co-author Timothy Taylor, also of the University of Bradford said in the article: It looks to us as though the children were led up to the summit shrine in the culmination of a yearlong rite, drugged and then left to succumb to exposure”.
One of such mummies can be seen in this article, which was exhibited recently in Argentina amidst a controversy.
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