Llamas were a prize possession to the Inca people, providing food and materials for clothing. But a recent discovery has found Incas were sacrificing their llamas to appease their gods. It was already known that the ancient civilisation of South America sacrificed humans and llamas, but more light is being shed on their ritualistic practices.
Researchers excavating a Peruvian site called Tambo Viejo found five extremely well preserved remains of llamas.
Archaeologists said the animals were not only sacrificed to appease the gods, but also to impress newly conquered, peacefully it should be said, locals.
Dr Lidio Valdez, from the University of Calgary, said: “Historical records indicate animal sacrifices were important to the Inca, who used them as special offerings to supernatural deities.
“This was especially the case of llamas, regarded second only to humans in sacrificial value.”
Radiocarbondating indicated the llamas were buried alive around 500 years ago, before the Spanish conquistadors arrived.
Also found in the area were large ovens and traces of feasts, suggesting the burial of the llamas was part of a larger celebration, according to the research published in the journal Antiquity.
The research also cited previous studies, which found certain llamas were sacrificed to appease certain gods.
For example, brown llamas were sacrificed to the creator God (Viracocha), while white llamas were sacrificed for the Sun gods and mixed coloured llamas to the gods of thunder.