Inca children were taken from their parents, murdered and put on top of volcanoes to be struck by lightning, archaeologists have said.
A new study of Incan child remains found on top of the volcanoes Ampato and Pichu Pichu in the Andes has revealed grisly details of the child sacrifices.
The bodies, dating back 500 years, were left on a ceremonial stone slab to be hit by lightning – and if they were struck, the people believed the gods were pleased with the sacrifice.
Dagmara Socha, of the University of Warsaw, told the Polish news service PAP: “According to the Incas, a person struck by lightning received great honour – a god expressed interest in that person.
“The Incas considered the children pure and untouched – their status was supposed to facilitate persuading the gods to make specific decisions.”
The bodies of the murdered children were meant to be intermediaries between the gods and people on Earth, IFLScience reports.
The researchers examined remains including “Lightning Girl”, a six-year-old found on the Argentinian volcano Llullaillaco in 1999.
They said the child’s teeth showed she experienced hunger or extreme stress in her life – before being sacrificed.
“I suppose it was then that the girl was taken away from her parents and brought to Cuzco, the capital of the Inca empire, where the girl was being prepared for three years to be sacrificed at the top of the volcano,” Socha said.