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1,000-year-old dog sacrifice burial site found in Peru

Archaeologists uncovered the remains of 10 dogs, together with two guinea pigs and a human, estimated to be about 1,000 years old, in the midst of Peru's bustling capital in the Parque de las Leyendas zoo in the San Miguel district.

1,000-year-old dog sacrifice burial site found in Peru
The 1000-year-old dogs were wrapped in textiles and buried alongside humans, 
perhaps as part of a sacrifice [Credit: Rubén Sánchez]
The discovery was found inside two small trenches in the pre-Incan Huaca El Rosal temple in the zoo's international zone, archaeologists said during a news conference on Monday.

The remains belong to the pre-Incan culture of Ychsma dating back to between 900 and 1470 AD.

"In Huaca El Rosal [pre-Incan temple] we found 10 dogs, two guinea pigs and a human burial," Lucenida Carrion, head of archaeology, Middendorf Museum at the Park Leyendas, said.

"This is from 1,000 years ago and belongs to the Ychsma culture. But these burials were found along the construction of the Lima culture, on a previous building. It has been reused, reoccupied at a later date."

The archaeologists found both male and female dogs, each entombed in a sleeping position. Each dog had a leash around its neck and both sets of its legs were tied.

Investigators believe the Ychsma culture sacrificed the dogs as an offering to the gods, believing they would serve as guides for their owners during the afterlife.

"The dogs were positioned as though they were sleeping directly on the stones," Ms Carrion said.

"On this filling, they are tied by the front and rear legs and neck. Many of them had the rope tied around their neck. That is how they were found, as if they were sleeping, so we think that is part of a sacrifice."

Researchers said the dogs had brown fur and the guinea pig's fur was black.

Between 2012 and 2013, the remains of 138 dogs and 134 humans were located, local media reported.

The AAAS journal claims the finding "may help archaeologists understand the roles of dogs in pre-Columbian Peru, including their potentially important role as sacrificial victims".

The newly discovered remains will be presented to the general public at the Middendorf Museum.

Source: Reuters [September 13, 2016]

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