Child-Sacrificing Incas and Us

Here is another cultural jolt from the January issue of First Things:

A reader passed along this story from ScienceNews:

The remains of seven children apparently killed in a ritual, and buried beneath a 500- to 600-year-old building in Peru’s Cuzco Valley have given scientists new glimpses of the sketchily understood Inca practice of sacrificing select children in elaborate ceremonies.

The children were buried at the same time, apparently after having been killed in a sacrificial rite that honored Inca deities and promoted political unity across the far-flung empire, say anthropologist Valerie Andrushko of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and her colleagues.

Chemical analyses of the bones indicate that at least two of the children came from distant parts of the Inca realm.

The findings lend credence to the accounts of Spanish conquistadors that described how children were selected for sacrifice from all across the empire, based on their physical perfection. We shudder at such brutal backwardness.

Today, using prenatal screening, we scour the empire for children with physical imperfections and sacrifice them to ourselves.
(First Things, “While We’re at It”, January 2011, 68)

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.