Skeletal remains of sacrificed Chimú woman found at Chan Chan

The well-preserved skeletal remains of a Chimú woman were found at Chan Chan, America’s largest pre-Hispanic mud-brick settlement, reported state news agency Andina on Tuesday.

Archaeologists restoring the outer walls of the citadel’s Ñain-An Palace, or Birds’ House, encountered the remains.

According to archeologist Raul Sosaya, the skeleton belongs to a 1.55-meter tall Chimú woman who died around 1460, at the approximate age of 22. She was most likely sacrificed, was hung and thrown over one of the citadel’s high walls and then buried alive. Her facial expression suggests that she screamed before she died, and her foot was amputated, to prevent her from leaving her improvised tomb in a future life.

“This is the first time that evidence pointing to the fact that the Chimú buried people alive to prevent, in this case, El Niño from having adverse effects on the citadel is found,” said archeologist Cristóbal Campana.

In 1982-1983, rains caused by El Niño, destroyed approximately 40 percent of Chan Chan’s infrastructure, turning it to mud.

Chan Chan, a 28-square-mile triangular city divided into nine walled citadels, each constructed out of mud-covered adobe brick, and each containing temples, storerooms, burial grounds and gardens, was the capital of Peru’s ancient Chimu Empire, which reached its apogee in the 15th century, before the establishment of the Inca Empire.

The average enclosed area of a citadel is equal to the approximate area of 26 football fields, and each is surrounded by very high walls.

The purpose of the unusually high adobe walls has intrigued explorers and archaeologists for years.

A recent wind tunnel experiment study, conducted by Dr. Steve Gorin of Tulane University, Louisiana, suggests the high walls are an architectural solution to control dust and sand and to reduce the effects of high winds.

The high walls also allowed the inhabitants of Chan Chan to insulate themselves against hot daytime temperatures, then releasing the collected heat at night, to protect them from lower temperatures.

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