There is little disagreement that the darkest, creepiest and most violent movie in the “Indiana Jones” series is “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Set in India, it shows child slavery, human sacrifice and the memorable yet horrible scene of Mola Ram ripping the heart out of a victim with his hand. Viewers hoped this was not based on a true story, and it wasn’t … at least, not in India. Unfortunately, archeologists in Peru have uncovered tombs from an ancient pre-Incan culture which contain evidence that children had their hearts ripped out in sacrifices to appeal to the gods of weather.
According to the Peruvian news source Andina, the remains were discovered by construction workers digging in preparation to lay water pipes in Huanchaco on the northwestern coast of Peru. They stopped when they uncovered the remains of 47 humans, 12 of whom were children, and called in archeologists who identified them as members of the Chimú culture which rose around 900 CE and survived until it was conquered by the Incas around 1470, just 50 years before the first wave of Europeans arrived. While historically significant, the findings were gruesome.
“What they [Chimú] wanted to do with the presence of the children in this arid area is to attract rain, to improve cultivation.”
By “presence” of children, Victor Campos, director at the archaeological site, explained to Newsweek he meant that the remains of the children buried there showed that their chests had been cut open and their ribs damaged – strong evidence that their hearts had been ripped out as part of a ghastly sacrifice to ironically do what the construction workers who discovered them were doing … bring water to the area.
This discovery is just the latest evidence of human sacrifice practiced by the Chimu. In 1997, 200 skeletal remains found in Punta Lobos showed signs that their hands and feet were bound and they were blindfolded before their throats were slashed in what archeologists believe was a sacrifice of gratitude to the sea god after a conquest.
What kind of people performed such horrific rituals on their own children and neighbors? The answer to that is like the answer to the dark joke: “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” The Chimú culture was actually pretty cultured. Their capital city, Chan Chan, is recognized as a well-planned urban development and their pottery and metalwork are beautiful. Perhaps one warning sign of something dark lurking in their minds is that most of their pottery figures are one solid color – black.
Sadly, the remains of the children may be sacrificed again for water. The local residents cannot be relocated and the water pipe construction cannot be stopped to make the area an archeological preserve. At best, it’s hoped the remains and artifacts can be removed to museum so Peruvians and the world can view and attempt to understand and learn from the horrors of their past.
In the meantime, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford are working on the next film in the Indiana Jones series. Let’s hope it’s not based on THIS true story.