Inca Child Sacrifice Victims were Drugged and Given Alcohol Weeks Before Death: Study [VIDEO]

First Posted: Jul 30, 2013 07:54 AM EDT

Bradford scientists shed new light on the centuries old Inca Capacocha ritual of child sacrifice that was a part of the pre-Columbian culture.

Based on an analysis of the 500-year-old Inca mummies, the latest finding reveals that the Inca children used for human sacrifice as part of their ritual, were drugged and given alcohol several months before their sacrifice.

The three Inca mummies that were sacrificed as offerings to God included a 13-year-old girl, named the Ice Maiden, a six-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy. The three Inca mummies were discovered in 1999 near a mountain summit on the Chile border with Argentina, close to Volcan Llullaillaco. All three were found in separate chambers.

The university researchers carried out an analysis of a hair strand of the 13-year-old and found that she was given cocaine and alcohol in her final months, maybe as a part of the sacrifice ritual. Some chewed coca leaves were found in her mouth

High doses of drugs and alcohol combined with the cold temperatures of the high altitude give a clear indication of the cause of death of the three Inca children. Researchers state that there are no evident signs of physical violence. 


The Inca Capacocha culture practiced human sacrifice of children. Children were considered to be the purest beings. The children selected for this ritual were in the age group of 6 to 15 (source Wikipedia).

Lead researcher Andrew Wilson said in a press statement, "Hair grows around 1cm a month and, once formed, doesn't undergo any further alterations. Substances such as cocaine and alcohol leave markers which can tell us how much the person was consuming when that section of hair was growing. From Maidan's hair, we have a two-year timeline running up to her death, showing us some of what she ate and drank."

In the hair samples the researchers looked at three markers in which two revealed the consumption of cocaine from coca leaves and one revealed the consumption of coca and alcohol together.

Based on the analysis, the researchers learnt the teenage girl had ingested higher levels of the drug compared to the others. Her consumption of coca increased sharply 12 months before her death indicating the time she was selected as a sacrificial victim. The ingestion of coca peaked six months before the death, at this time her consumption of drug was three times more than the earlier levels. In the final weeks before the sacrifice there was a peak in the alcohol consumption.

"Coca and alcohol are likely to have hastened their deaths. The fact that in her final weeks the Maiden shows consistently higher levels of coca and alcohol use compared to the younger children, suggests there was a greater need to sedate her in the final weeks of life," says Dr Wilson who compared the data with the historical accounts produced by the Spanish, dating from the Colonial period.

The team's finding is confirmed by the position in which the Ice Maiden was found. Seated cross legged inside a burial chamber with head slumped forward and arms resting loosely on lap, with the headdress intact and artifacts kept undisturbed, she was placed inside the chamber when she was heavily sedated.

Before the sacrifice pilgrimage, the children were fattened up.  During the journey the young children were fed coca leaves that helped them cope with the long and arduous trek to the burial sites. Alcohol was given to reduce the pain and fear.

The children were either strangled to death or given a deadly blow to the head. Sometimes they were left in the cold to die. (Wikipedia). The Inca Capacocha culture practiced human sacrifice of children as they were considered to be the purest beings.

The study was published in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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