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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Imagine Having Machu Picchu All To Yourself – That’s What One Man Got After Being Stuck In Peru For Seven Months

Things That Matter

Imagine Having Machu Picchu All To Yourself – That’s What One Man Got After Being Stuck In Peru For Seven Months

Gustavo Basso / Getty Images

One of the most dreaded side effects of the global Coronavirus pandemic, is that it took with it our travel plans. Whether we were simply set to have weekends at the beach, visit our abuelos in Mexico, or go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the world, so many of us have seen our travel plans taken away.

Well, one traveler made it across the world to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing Machu Picchu but as soon as he arrived, so too did the pandemic. He became stuck in foreign country and couldn’t travel or see the sights he had hoped to visit.

As Peru has slowly reopened, this now world-famous traveler is being known as the first person to see Machu Picchu post-lockdown and he got to do so all by himself.

One lucky traveler got to experience the city of Machu Picchu all by himself.

Peru’s famous Machu Picchu ruins, closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, reopened on Monday for one lucky Japanese tourist after he spent months stranded in the country due to global travel restrictions.

In a video first reported by The Guardian, Jesse Takayama shared his immense gratitude for being allowed to visit the ancient Incan city – which had long been one of his dreams. Months ago he had arrived in a small town near the Incan city, where he has remained ever since because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Peru’s Minister of Culture, Alejandro Neyra, said at a press conference that “He [Takayama] had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter. The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.” Talk about a once in a lifetime experience.

Neyra went on to add that this really was a rare moment and that Takayama only received access after submitting a special request to the local tourism authority.

In an Instagram post about his special access, Takayama said that “Machu Picchu is so incredible! I thought I couldn’t go but many people asked the government. I’m the first one to visit Machu Picchu after lockdown!”

Takayama had been stuck in Peru since March when the country shut down its borders because of the pandemic.

Takayama arrived to Peru in March and promptly bought his pass to the ancient city but little did he know the world (and his plans) would come to a screeching halt. Peru was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic (and continues to struggle) and was forced to close its borders and institute a strict lockdown.

Peru was forced to implement drastic COVID-19 restrictions on travel including an end to all incoming international flights earlier this year, which only relaxed this month after the nation’s rate of new COVID-19 cases began declining in August.

The last statement posted on the Machu Picchu website, dated from July, says that “the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Trade and Tourism are coordinating the prompt reopening of Machu Picchu”.

Peru’s Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.

The country’s Minister of Culture, Neyra, stressed that “the reopening of Machu Picchu is important for Peruvians, as a symbol of national pride and also as a budget issue, because it is one of the places that generates the most income for the culture sector.”

The BBC reports that the Inca stronghold, a Unesco world heritage site since 1983, is expected to reopen at reduced capacity next month. 

More than 1.5 million people make the pilgrimage to the Inca city annually. In 2017, Unesco threatened to place the famous ruins on its list of endangered heritage sites because of fears about overcrowding; Peruvian authorities subsequently brought in measures to control the flow of tourists and visitor numbers were capped at around 2,240 per day.

Peru is still experiencing one of the region’s worst outbreaks of Coronavirus.

After beginning a phased reopening, Peru has started to see its contagion rate increase in recent days. The country still faces one of the worst outbreaks in South America, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic,” Neyra added. “It will be done with all the necessary care.”

Peru has recorded just over 849,000 total cases of COVID-19, and 33,305 deaths since the pandemic began.

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The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Culture

The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Tyrone Turner / Getty Images

Latinos make up the largest minority group in the country, yet our history is so frequently left out of classrooms. From Chicano communities in Texas and California to Latinos in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the Underground Railroad – which also had a route into Mexico – Latinos have helped shape and advance this country.

And as the U.S. is undergoing a racial reckoning around policing and systemic racism, Mexico’s route of the Underground Railroad is getting renewed attention – particularly because Mexico (for the very first time in history) has counted its Afro-Mexican population as its own category in this year’s census.

The Underground Railroad also ran south into Mexico and it’s getting renewed attention.

Most of us are familiar with stories of the Underground Railroad. It was a network of clandestine routes and safe houses established in the U.S. during the early to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada. It grew steadily until the Civil War began, and by one estimate it was used by more than 100,000 enslaved people to escape bondage.

In a story reported on by the Associated Press, there is renewed interest in another route on the Underground Railroad, one that went south into Mexico. Bacha-Garza, a historian, dug into oral family histories and heard an unexpected story: ranches served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas, scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico.

According to Maria Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin studying the passage of escapees who crossed the borderlands for sanctuary in Mexico, about 5,000 to 10,000 people broke free from bondage into the southern country. Currently, no reliable figures currently exist detailing how many left to Mexico, unlike the more prominent transit into Canada’s safe haven.

Mexico abolished slavery a generation before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Thirty-four years before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in 1829, Mexican President Vicente Guerrero, who was of mixed background, including African heritage, abolished slavery in the country. The measure freed an estimated 200,000 enslaved Africans Spain forcefully brought over into what was then called New Spain and would later open a pathway for Blacks seeking freedom in the Southern U.S.

And he did so while Texas was still part of the country, in part prompting white, slave-holding immigrants to fight for independence in the Texas Revolution. Once they formed the Republic of Texas in 1836, they made slavery legal again, and it continued to be legal when Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845.

With the north’s popular underground railroad out of reach for many on the southern margins, Mexico was a more plausible route to freedom for these men and women.

Just like with the northern route, helping people along the route was dangerous and could land you in serious trouble.

Credit: Library of Congress / Public Domain

Much like on the railway’s northern route into Canada, anyone caught helping African-Americans fleeing slavery faced serious and severe consequences.

Slaveholders were aware that people were escaping south, and attempted to get Mexico to sign a fugitive slave treaty that would, like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that demanded free states to return escapees, require Mexico to deliver those who had left. Mexico, however, refused to sign, contending that all enslaved people were free once they reached Mexican soil. Despite this, Hammock said that some Texans hired what was called “slave catchers” or “slave hunters” to illegally cross into the country, where they had no jurisdiction, to kidnap escapees.

“The organization that we know today as the Texas Rangers was born out of an organization of men that were slave hunters,” Hammack, who is currently researching how often these actions took place, told the AP. “They were bounty hunters trying to retrieve enslaved property that crossed the Rio Grande for slave owners and would get paid according to how far into Mexico the slaves were found.”

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