New study shows frozen mummy Inca children given coca and alcohol before sacrifice

July 30, 2013 by Bob Yirka, report

The Maiden’s coca quid: (A) within the cheek in an anterior photograph of face; (B) Axial radiograph of the interior of the mouth, showing the coca quid (green) held between the teeth; (C–D) 3D visualizations of the cranium (yellow), teeth (orange), tongue (red) and the coca quid (green). Credit: Reprinted with permission from ref. 1. Photography by Johan Reinhard.
( —A new study conducted by an international team of experts has resulted in evidence showing that three Inca children sacrificed approximately 500 years ago ingested coca and alcohol in the months leading up to their deaths. In their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they analyzed hair samples to discern what sorts of drugs the children may have been exposed to before sacrifice.

The three children—a boy and girl each about age 4 or 5 and a girl aged 13—were found entombed near the summit of Llullaillaco volcano in Argentina in 1999. The bodies of all three of the children were in remarkably good condition due to the very low temperatures. Because of the location of their entombment and found on and around them, scientists have suspected that all three had been sacrificed as part of a ritual. In 2007, analysis of hair samples revealed the children's diet had changed radically over the months prior to their deaths—instead of mainly eating vegetables such as potatoes, the children had been consuming maize and even meat, likely from a . In this new study, it appears the children were also given a type of beer called chicha made from maize and coca (the source of modern ).

Historians have believed for years that Inca children were sacrificed, partly out of ritual, and partly as a means of quelling dissent. Stories told to Spanish explorers often mentioned children being killed as part of sacrificial rites. This new study now offers scientific evidence to back up those stories.

As hair grows, evidence of what has been consumed grows with it, providing researchers a timeline of sorts. By analyzing from the to the tips, researchers can trace a period of time that offers a glimpse of the lifestyle of the person from whom it was taken. In this case, it appears the older girl, known as the Maiden, lived a simple life until approximately a year before her death. From then on, it appears she was fed well and given large amounts of coca and chicha to prepare her for her sacrifice. A large wad of coca was even found in her mouth suggesting she may have been unconscious before she died. The younger children were also given a richer diet and fed coca and chicha during the months leading up to their sacrifice, but not to the degree of the Maiden—this was due, the researchers believe, to their status as attendants to the Maiden.

Explore further: Risk of death from ischemic stroke appears to have decreased in US black children

More information: Archaeological, radiological, and biological evidence offer insight into Inca child sacrifice, PNAS, Published online before print July 29, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1305117110

Examination of three frozen bodies, a 13-y-old girl and a girl and boy aged 4 to 5 y, separately entombed near the Andean summit of Volcán Llullaillaco, Argentina, sheds new light on human sacrifice as a central part of the Imperial Inca capacocha rite, described by chroniclers writing after the Spanish conquest. The high-resolution diachronic data presented here, obtained directly from scalp hair, implies escalating coca and alcohol ingestion in the lead-up to death. These data, combined with archaeological and radiological evidence, deepen our understanding of the circumstances and context of final placement on the mountain top. We argue that the individuals were treated differently according to their age, status, and ritual role. Finally, we relate our findings to questions of consent, coercion, and/or compliance, and the controversial issues of ideological justification and strategies of social control and political legitimation pursued by the expansionist Inca state before European contact.

Related Stories

Coke takes anti-obesity campaign global

May 8, 2013

(AP)—Coca-Cola says it will work to make lower-calorie drinks and clear nutrition information more widely available around the world, intensifying a push against critics who say its drinks pack on the pounds.

Product placements market unhealthy food to children

August 2, 2011

Children are being exposed to almost one advertisement every day for unhealthy food, beverage, and restaurant brands via product placements on prime-time TV, finds a study from Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. ...

Six-year-old Cambodian girl dies from bird flu

July 2, 2013

A six-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, bringing the country's toll from the deadly virus to nine so far this year, the World Health Organisation said Tuesday.

Children as young as seven affected by parents smoking

July 24, 2013

A new study out today (24 July) shows that children as young as seven had elevated levels of cotinine (a by-product of nicotine) in their blood if their mother smoked, particularly children whose mothers smoked ten cigarettes ...

Recommended for you

Cellular microRNA detection with miRacles

March 26, 2019

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding regulatory RNAs that can repress gene expression post-transcriptionally and are therefore increasingly used as biomarkers of disease. Detecting miRNAs can be arduous and expensive as ...

What happened before the Big Bang?

March 26, 2019

A team of scientists has proposed a powerful new test for inflation, the theory that the universe dramatically expanded in size in a fleeting fraction of a second right after the Big Bang. Their goal is to give insight into ...

Probiotic bacteria evolve inside mice's GI tracts

March 26, 2019

Probiotics—which are living bacteria taken to promote digestive health—can evolve once inside the body and have the potential to become less effective and sometimes even harmful, according to a new study from Washington ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.1 / 5 (9) Jul 30, 2013
So many people still sacrifice their children today. Except they do it before their children are even born. And then some of these people even claim that we are the enlightened ones today.

But you are aware that even unprotected intercourse does not automatically lead to pregnancy? And that many pregnancy are naturally aborted by the body? What these enlightened people do is just have a few percent less of their sexual activities result in pregnancy than others.
Your argument is really about small percentages and not a qualitative one.
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 30, 2013
Can't find a woman willing to be impregnated by you, verkle?
1.8 / 5 (10) Jul 30, 2013
Koche---don't worry, I am happily married, have never laid with more than 1 woman (my wife) all of my life, and have been blessed with a few children.
Fine. Did you ask her how she feels about being treated as nothing more than a vessel?
1 / 5 (2) Jul 30, 2013
Hopefully these children were so drugged that they felt no pain. It appears that they might not have been conscious when they were left to freeze to death.
1 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2013
Only few people know that life is beautiful for lacking something. The so-called turning-around is that you not only mithe sun in day time but also the stars at night.

WOW Gold-Buy Runescape Gold-Diablo 3 Gold
2 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2013
Those aboriginal Americans were so humane. Before killing children they gave them drugs and candy for a year.
not rated yet Aug 04, 2013
Koche, your questions is so outrageous that I won't even bother answering it.
Please, go get a life yourself.
This from an idiot who doesn't even support his own 4th amendment, and believes half of humanity should just "suck it up" while being invaded by parasites

Most of my predictions right here on have come through. What is your track record, verkle?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.