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Sacred Mountains, Ceremonial Sites, and Human Sacrifice Among the Incas

by Johan Reinhard, María Constanza Ceruti
Archaeoastronomy ()

Abstract

The most important offerings made at Inca ceremonial sites involved human sacrifices (capacochas). Although Spanish chroniclers wrote about them, their accounts were based on secondhand sources, and the only direct evidence we have of human sacrifices comes to us from archaeological excavations. Some of the most thoroughly documented of these were undertaken on high mountain summits, where the material evidence has been exceptionally well preserved. In this study we will refer to mountains in Peru, Chile, and Argentina where Inca capacocha offerings have been found, especially focusing on Mount Llullaillaco (6,739 m), one of the best documented. The types of sites and artifact assemblages recovered will be examined. By comparing the archaeological evidence with the chroniclers' accounts, we will describe common patterns and previously little-known elements, which will contribute to an increased understanding of key aspects of Inca religion. This study also demonstrates the importance of archaeological sites being placed within the broader context of physical and sacred features of the landscape. (English) ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR Las ofrendas mÃs importantes presentadas en sitios ceremoniales de Ãpoca Inca comprendÃan sacrificios humanos (capacochas). Si bien los cronistas espaÃoles escribieron sobre ellas, sus relatos estaban basados en fuentes de segunda mano, por lo que la única evidencia directa sobre sacrificios humanos llega a nosotros a travÃs de las excavaciones arqueolÃgicas. Algunas de las excavaciones mejor documentadas fueron emprendidas en cumbres de altas montaÃas, donde las evidencias materiales se han mantenido excepcionalmente bien preservadas. En este estudio nos referiremos a montaÃas de Peru, Chile, y Argentina donde se encontraron ofrendas Inca de capacocha, focalizando especialmente en el Monte Llullaillaco (6,739 m), uno de los ejemplos estudiados en mayor profundidad. Se examinaran los tipos de sitio y los conjuntos de artefactos. Mediante la comparaciÃn de la evidencia arqueolÃgica con los relatos de los cronistas, se ilustrarÃn patrones comunes y elementos poco conocidos anteriormente, que se contribuirÃn a una mÃs clara comprensiÃn de aspectos claves de la religiÃn Inca. Este estudio demuestra tambiÃn la importancia de que los sitios arqueolÃgicos sean abordados desde el contexto mÃs amplio de los rasgos fÃsicos y aspectos sagrados del paisaje. (Spanish) ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR Copyright of Archaeoastronomy is the property of University of Texas Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts)

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