Archeologists in Peru have uncovered the remains of around 250 children sacrificed by the pre-Columbian Chimú civilization.
The remains are of children aged 4-12 years old, as well as 40 warriors, sacrificed between the 13th and 15th centuries, according to a video from Peruvian state media agency Andina.
The Chimú civilization inhabited northern Peru before they were conquered by the Inca. They built Chan Chan, the largest city in pre-Columbian South America.
Archeologists say the children were sacrificed to the Chimú gods in an attempt to end natural disasters linked with the El Niño phenomenon.
Four mass sacrifices were made between 1200-1450, three involving children and a final one using animals, reports Andina.
This is the third finding of its kind at Pampa La Cruz, an archeological site in Huanchaco-La Libertad, a tourist destination on the coast north of Lima.
“This is the biggest site where the remains of sacrificed children have been found,” chief archeologist Feren Castillo told the AFP news agency.
Castillo said there may be more remains yet to be uncovered.
“It’s uncontrollable, this thing with the children. Wherever you dig, there’s another one,” he said.
Archeologists discovered signs the children were killed during wet weather, one of the effects of El Niño, and buried facing the sea. Some still had teeth and hair, AFP reports.
In June 2018 the remains of 56 people were found at Pampa La Cruz, according to AFP.
And in April that year the skeletal remains of 140 children and 200 llamas were found in nearby Huanchaquito.
The children ranged in age from 5 to 14 and the baby llamas were less than 18 months old, according to a report by National Geographic.
“Skeletal remains of both children and animals show evidence of cuts to the sternum as well as rib dislocations,” read the report.
As well as Chan Chan, the largest mud brick city in the world, the Chimú civilization built huge civil engineering projects that irrigated the desert sands of coastal Peru.
Before Chan Chan fell to an invading army led by the Inca emperor Topa Inca Yupanqui in 1470, it became a society of powerful elites, highly trained craftsmen and farmers.
Exposure to more than five hundred years of rainwater has begun to melt the city back into mud, and UNESCO scientists believe erosion will cause even more damage as a changing climate brings greater extremes of weather.