Eighty-two skeletons of the Muchik people—including 32 that were mostly or completely intact—have been discovered since 2003 at the Cerro Cerillos site in the Lambayeque Valley on Peru's arid northern coast.All are children, say the archaeologists.
Which raises the question, do we really want to understand the terms on which this made sense?
Seeds of a paralytic and hallucinogenic plant called Nectandra, which also prevents blood clotting, were found with the skeletons, suggesting the children were drugged before their throats were slit and their chests cut open.
During the sacrifices, sharp bronze knives were used to hack the children to death. One skeleton had more than 25 cut marks on it. A few had their hands and legs bound with rope.
"It is so beyond what is necessary to kill a person. It really gives you the chills," Klaus, an anthropologist at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah, told National Geographic News. "But we are trying to understand this on their terms, not ours."