Monday, July 22, 2019

National Geographic article about Chimu culture looks at child sacrifice that is nothing more


Kristin Romey and photographer Robert Clark, in the February 2019 issue of National Geographic, present the narrative (paywall) of the Chimu people in coastal Peru, who about five centuries ago created one of the largest human sacrifices on record, apparently (according to anthropologists) of their most gifted children. I saw this article today on a table at a car dealership, although I would have received it by mail months ago. 
The sacrifices apparently came after a climate change – a lesson – and were made to appease the gods.  The people would eventually be conquered by the Incas.


Of course, we may hear of other such narratives among groups like the Maya, whose civilization was even more sophisticated than we had thought.

But the event 500 years ago is particularly disturbing.  This was a deliberate sacrifice of children for the stability of the state. This was not even honorable in the sense of young men who lost their lives in a necessary battle. This was sacrifice – abnegation or erasure for its own sake, to prove that sometimes it happens – pure fascism.

Some people might see the Vietnam war, with its draft supported by student deferments for the privileged until 1969 as comparable. But in this ancient history case, the kids were already privileged, and their destruction seems to have been painful, graphic and brutal, even more so than suicide bombers today.

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