Volcanoes, Lightnings, Child Sacrifices, and Gods: It Has to be the Incas

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Bioarchaeologists have been studying the 500-year-old remains of child sacrifices found on top of the volcanos Ampato and Pichu Pichu in the Andes.

They found that a surprising number of the sacrifices have been struck by a bolt of lightning.

Inca Child Sacrifices Were Placed On Top Of Volcanoes To Be Struck By Lightning
Inca Child Sacrifices Were Placed On Top Of Volcanoes To Be Struck By Lightning. Picture: IStock

You remember La Doncella? It’s the name given to a perfectly preserved mummy of a sacrificed Inca teenage girl who was found atop a volcano 500 years ago.

Now a new scientific study suggests that the bodies of sacrificed children were taken to the tops of mountains or volcanoes, where they were laid on a ceremonial stone slab and left to be hit by lightning. If a bolt struck, the gods were pleased with the sacrifice.

According to the Incas, a person struck by lightning received great honor: a god expressed interest in that person.

But being hit by a lightning is kind of rare. So is this why Incas had to sacrifice more than 200 children at a time?

Children as Intermediary Between Gods and Earthers

No strangers to lightning storms, the high peaks of the Andes were sacred to the Inca and closely associated with their deities, such as the weather god, Illapa. The use of child sacrifices in this context suggests that the lightning and children were being used as an intermediary between the gods and the people of Earth. 

The Incas considered the children pure and untouched. Their status was supposed to facilitate persuading the gods to make specific decisions.

Besides La Doncella, two other child mummies were found atop the Llullaillaco volcano located on the Argentina-Chile border. One of them has been named the ‘Lightning Girl‘ due to the fact that the 6-year-old girl displayed clear damage from a lightning strike on her face and shoulder that occurred after her death.

Inca Child Sacrifices Were Placed On Top Of Volcanoes To Be Struck By Lightning
The mummy of a 6-year-old girl was also found on the summit of the Argentinian volcano Llullaillaco, though she showed signs of having been struck by lightning. Picture: Angelique Corthals

The archeologists suggest children were prepared over long periods of times before being ready to be sacrificed on top of volcanoes.

The Incas erected these special flat stones in places known to attract lightning strikes, and some of the stones showed they had been repeatedly struck. 

But being hit by a lightning is kind of rare. So is this why Incas had to sacrifice more than 200 children at a time? OMG!

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