Things That Matter

Archaeologists Found 250 Child Corpses In A Sacrifice Site In Peru And We Have Answers

Every once in a while, archaeologists make a finding so incredible, that headlines all throughout the world exploit the sensational aspects of the discovery. Such is the case of a recently unveiled mass grave containing the remains of 250 sacrificed children in Peru. The lead archeologist in the site, Feren Castillo, told AFP: “This is the biggest site where the remains of sacrificed children have been found. It’s uncontrollable, this thing with the children. Wherever you dig, there’s another one”. It is believed that more remains could be found.  

This is what you need to know about this amazing discovery that unearths more knowledge about the Chimú civilization from Northern Peru, specifically from the Moche Valley.  Alongside the Incas, the Chimú created a network of trade, political systems, religious institutions and enviable skills as craftspeople. 

So first things first, who were the Chimú people?

Credit: Instagram. @bygabrielagil

Chimú culture is responsible for much of the development of pre Columbine Northern Peru. Power was concentrated in the city of Chan Chan, a large adobe settlement on what is modern day Trujillo. They succeeded the Moche people and their civilization arose around 900 AD. Their downfall, around the year 1470, was product of an invasion by the Inca emperor Inca Yupanqui. The Spanish obliterated what was left of this proud indigenous civilization. 

We have to get rid of our colonialist gaze before reading the details of the finding!

Credit: Instagram. @isavillanuevav 

When we read stories like this our mind tends to judge them by current standards. Words like “savage” and “barbaric” often are used in media reports and everyday conversations. This inquisitive worldview is product of the mixing of European and indigenous moral and ethical standards. Latin America is largely a mestizo region where European worldviews prevailed. Yes, of course sacrificing children is appalling, but we should not perpetuate the idea that the original inhabitants of the continent were a bunch of blood-thirsty savages before colonization. Doing so only keeps racist ideas alive and this affects indigenous populations even today.

So who were the children and where were they found?

Credit: Programa Arqueologico/AFP/Getty Images

The finding is as important as it is perplexing: the remains of up to 250 underage individuals. According to scientists, the bodies indicate that the children were aged from 4 to 12 years old. As reported by Andina, the Peruvian state media agency, the remains of up to 40 warriors were also found. The sacrifices occurred between the 13th and 15th centuries.  The site is located in Pampa La Cruz, an archaeological site in Huanchaco-La Libertad, north of Lima. The reason for the ritual offering hits close to home in our turbulent times and the climate crisis we are experiencing.

The Chimú knew how to survive in the desert, so any change in the climate was devastating. This is the reason behind the sacrifices.

Credit: Instagram. @sheyllamoncada

Northern Peru is an arid landscape where human settlements need to run like clockwork to guarantee survival. The Chimúdepended on the replenishment of a network of rivers and streams that were fundamental for irrigation and human consumption. Too much water also brought disaster. Changes in the weather spelled doom for the Chimú. In an attempt to make peace with their gods they made an offering of children and warriors. Deutsche Welle reports: “Castillo said in this case he believes they were killed in hopes it would appease the gods and bring an end to El Nino, a cyclical climate pattern that can result in heavy rainfall and storms on the western coasts of South America. His theory is backed up by the fact that soil samples show that the children died during an extremely wet season, and that they were facing the sea”.

Human sacrifice was not uncommon in pre-Columbine civilizations. The Aztecs in what is now Mexico, for example, often sacrificed their own, as well as their adversaries, to their deities.

All hail Pacasmayo: they sacrificed their children to the moon.

Credit: Instagram. @andeanlab

Among the deities that the Chimú worshipped, the moon of Pacasmayo ruled supreme. Because the moon can be seen both during the day and at night, it was believed to be much more powerful than the Sun. Pacasmayo received animal and human sacrifices. Some parents even sacrificed their own children. They believed that through this ritual practice the children, often five years-old, would become deified. The Sun, Mars, Earth and some constellations were also worshipped. The magnitude of the recent discovery implies that the situation was urgent. As Sputnik News Service reports, Gabriel Prieto, professor of archeology from the National University of Trujillo, said: “This number of children, this number of animals—it would have been a massive investment on behalf of the state”.

The Chimú were also very skillful craftsmen, particularly with gold.

Credit: Instagram. @arts_premiers

The Chimú developed large civil engineering projects to irrigate the desert, and they were also very skilled working with metals such as gold, copper, silver, bronze and a mix of copper and gold called tumbaga. To get some of these metals they had to travel for more than three days, which speaks of the reaches of their political power. 

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Nopales, The OG Ancestral Food We’ve Been Eating Since Waaaay Before Plant Based Foods Became Trendy

Culture

Nopales, The OG Ancestral Food We’ve Been Eating Since Waaaay Before Plant Based Foods Became Trendy

I can literally talk food until my babas drip. Don’t judge. The comelón life chose me and I’m not mad at it. Because growing up Latino meant breakfast wasn’t always cereal, and dinner wasn’t always mac and cheese. I grew up con más sabor en mis platillos than most Americans. And, at the time, I didn’t even realize that many of the foods my family was trying to get me to eat were ancestral foods. From chocolate to cocoa and chia to nopalitos, I blame los ancestros for my obsession with food and all the glorious ingredients that have been passed down for generations.

My knees already feel weak, fam, because today I’m gonna be talking nopalitos. Ya me estoy chupando los dedos, thinking back to how I grew up with these babies always in the refri in that Nopalitos jar, ready to be thrown into a sauce or encima de una carne asada. It turns out this soul-feeding food is one of the OG ancestral foods that have been used by our people for thousands of years. Ahí les va un poco de historia:

The Mexica introduced the world to the “fruit of the Earth.”

In Náhuatl, the word for nopal translates to “fruit of the Earth.” I don’t know what the Náhuatl word for “bomb-delicioso” is, but in my opinion, that should also be the name for nopales. And the Aztecs must have felt this way too because one of the most famous cities in the Aztec Empire – Tenochtitlán, the empire’s religious center – was named “prickly pear on a rock.” Iconic.

According to legend, the city was built after an Azteca priest spotted an eagle perched on a nopal plant, carrying a snake in its mouth. The priest, obviously extremadamente blown away by this, ran back to his village just so he could gather everyone to check out this crazy eagle with a snake in its mouth. As they watched, the cactus beneath the eagle grew into an island – eventually becoming Tenochtitlán. I’ll give you 3 seconds to just process that. 1…2…3. Please take more time if you need it. The image of the eagle carrying a snake, its golden talons perched on a nopal growing from a rock, can now be found on the Mexican flag.

Today, we know that the Mexica were right to call nopales the plant of life.

In Mexico, it’s still common to place a handful of nopal flowers in a bath to help relax achy muscles. And nopales are becoming more popular than ever in beauty treatments to help fight aging. But, y’all are too beautiful to be needing them for that, so let’s talk about what’s important — eating them.

There are so many ways you can mix this iconic ingredient into your meals.

We should all be eating our green foods. Your tía, your abuela, your primo, everyone…except your ex. Your ex can eat basura. I said what I said. But, nopalitos are especially important. These tenacious desert plants can be eaten raw, sautéed, pickled, grilled – they’re even used as pizza toppings. Though for some people, nopales – with their spines and texture – can be intimidating. After cutting off the spines and edges, and cutting them into slices, they will bleed a clear slime. But boiling for 20 minutes will take care of that. Or make it even easier on yourself and avoid espinas by buying them all ready-to-go from the brand we all know and love, DOÑA MARIA® Nopalitos.

Check it out, I’m even gonna hook it up with that good-good, because if you’re looking for ways to enjoy your nopales, I got’chu with some starter links to recipes: Hibiscus and Nopal Tacos, Nopal Tostadas, Roasted Nopales con Mole, and Lentil Soup con Nopales.  One of my personal favorite ways to eat them is in a beautiful Cactus Salad, full of color and flavor. Trust. I rate these dishes 10 out of 10, guaranteed to make your babas drip, and when you eat this ensalada de nopalitos, you will remember even your ancestors were dripping babas over this waaay before it was cool to eat plant-based foods.

So let’s give the poderoso nopal the spotlight it deserves by adding it to our shopping lists more often.

Rich in history, mythology, and practical uses, the nopal’s enduring popularity is a testament to its versatility. It’s time to give this classic ingredient the respect it deserves and recognize just how chingon our ancestors are for making nopales fire before plantbase foods were even trending.

Next time you’re at the supermercado, do your ancestors proud and add nopales to your shopping cart by picking up a jar of DOÑA MARIA® Nopalitos. This easy-to-use food will definitely give you a major boost of pride in your roots. Viva los nopalitos bay-beh!

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Chloe Zhao Makes Historical Oscar Win By Becoming First WOC And Second Woman To Win Best Director

Fierce

Chloe Zhao Makes Historical Oscar Win By Becoming First WOC And Second Woman To Win Best Director

In its 93 years, the Academy Awards has only ever recognized only seven women in the category of Best Director. This is despite the fact that women have had a long and lasting presence in film history. This year, two women were honored with nominations at the Oscars this year. Emerald Fennell was nominated for her work on “Promising Young Woman” starring Carey Mulligan.

This year, Chloe Zhao, the director of “Nomadland” became the second woman in history to win the best directing award in nearly 100 years.

She is also the first woman of color to win the award.

Zhao won Best Director at the Oscars and became the first woman of color to win the award.

“When I was growing up in China, my dad and I would play this game. We would memorize classic poems and text and try to finish each other’s sentences,” Zhao explained during her acceptance speech.

She went on to recite a line of poetry in Chinese and then translated it in English, “People at birth are inherently good.”

“I have always found goodness in the people I met,” she said. “This is for anyone who has the faith and courage to hold onto the goodness in themselves.”

In addition, Zhao won directing awards from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the Directors Guild of America.

Despite the presence of women in the entertainment industry, only seven women have been nominated for awards.

American filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for her 2009 film The Hurt Locker. Directors Lina Wertmuller (“Seven Beauties”), Jane Campion (“The Piano”), Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”), and Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) are the only other female directors to have ever been nominated for the best-directing award.

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