A team of Polish and Peruvian bioarchaeologists has studied
in detail the mysterious mummies found on the volcanic slopes near the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. They turned out to be children used in the capacocha rituals.
© Dagmar Socha from the Center for Andean Studies of the University of Warsaw in Cuzco
The well preserved mummies were found in the 20th century and given to a museum. They were buried in a sitting position. The children were part of a sacrificial killing. The Incas considered children to be intermediaries in communication with deities.
It is unknown how priests chose the future victims. The children most likely had to be attractive and of good lineage. Artificially elongated skulls of some of the mummies point to the high social status of the victims.
The remains of six children were analyzed, but not all of them were mummified. Some of them had burn marks. Experts say the Incas performed their rituals on top of mountains that were often struck by lightning. That would explain the burn marks.