Satellite Dispatch 9/19/96 Sacrificial Human Remains Found on Sara Sara!
Written and Photographed By Liesl Clark
First there was the discovery of a small bag holding coca leaves—a
traditional simple Inca offering to the mountain deities. Archaeologist Johan
Reinhard was summoned to the spot: "This is a sure sign that there's a body
nearby," said Reinhard. "I can even smell the decomposing odor of the body
now. We're close."
It was a local villager named Jose Luis from Quilcata who actually first came
across the skull of the 500-year old Inca human sacrifice.
"I think it's
important for people to know that the local indigenous people are helping us
with the dig," said Reinhard. The skull, which is flush with dirt and rocks,
is just barely exposed. Since the body was buried on the exposed side of the
mountain, and not in frozen earth, it has decomposed.
Dr. Jose Antonio Chavez excavated near the skeleton and pulled out a small
textile bundle wrapped around a female statuette made of silver. The coca leaf
bundle and the statuette are classic burial artefacts that accompanied the
children the Inca sacrificed on these high Andean peaks. The sacrifice was
made on the east side of Sara Sara, with a tremendous view toward volcanic
We don't know yet if the body is male or female. The excavation will continue
today in search of more clues as to the nature of this sacred ceremonial Incan
practice. Johan Reinhard, Jose Antonio Chavez, and their archaeological team
are continuing to excavate at other sites on Sara Sara's summit, in hopes of
finding a perfectly preserved mummy beneath the permafrost. "This was a very
sacred mountain to the Inca, and given what we've uncovered so far, I have
little doubt that there was more than one sacrifice on this summit," says
Reinhard, who is currently excavating a frozen platform higher up on the peak.
More will be revealed today as the team digs deeper into the unknown!