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We have all heard the term 'a sacrificial lamb', but a 'sacrificial llama' will be new to most! Llama's in Peru in Inca times were considered to be second only to human's in terms of value as a sacrifice, as they were such valuable animals providing everything from meat, to wool and transport. It has been long documented by other people that came into contact with the Inca, that llamas were killed 500 years ago as part of rituals to appease the gods, and thus to ensure good harvests and victories in war. White llamas were used to by the Inca people satisfy the powerful sun and brown llamas to sate the god of creation.

Recently, archaeologists from San Cristóbal of Huamanga University have found four to five llamas naturally preserved (and potentially buried alive) in Tambo Viejo (a former administration centre in Inca times). These are the first llamas that have ever been found to support the sources that documented this sacrificial practice. This discovery bears significance as it suggests that sacrifices might have had another purpose; that of placating the rulers and general populous of newly conquered territory. The llamas and materials around them were radiocarbon dated by the archaeologists, and were dated back to a peaceful time when Tambo Viejo was annexed by the Incas. This would suggest that a sacrifice to the gods might not have been necessary. When excavation of the site was begun two years ago, those digging found that the location was key one it was at the end of an important road from the Nazca Valley, and, therefore, would need to be held. Also found on the site were other items that indicate a celebration, such as ovens for feasting. The team of archaeologists wrote,  “through these ceremonies, the Inca created new orders, new understandings and meanings that helped to legitimise and justify their actions to both the conquerors and the conquered.'

Pupils who aim to study Archaeology at a university level might wish to look into the significance of the other items buried alongside the llamas, such as highly-coloured feathers, guinea pigs, and expensive bracelets.

 

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