Slain Humans Buried with Strangled Dogs Found at Prehistoric Site in Peru
Remains of two humans who died violent deaths about 1,000 years ago and buried with 10 dogs that were likely strangled and two guinea pigs have been unearthed at a site of the ancient Ychsma people in Peru. One of the bodies was the remains of a young boy who was positioned as if he was hugging a pregnant dog.
Archaeologists found the remains of the 12 animals buried with the human beings in two small trenches in an ancient temple. They found the animals and the human remains in the capital city of Lima’s Parque de las Leyendas zoo. Significantly, the zoo is in the city’s San Miguel district, according to Archaeology News Network .
Inside the zoo is a temple of the Ychsma people, a pre-Incan culture. The human and animal remains, buried together, were in the trench in the zoo’s international zone, archaeologists reported at a news conference this week.
The zoo’s international zone is not a legal designation but rather a section of the zoo devoted to species from around the world, including lions, tigers, giraffes, hippopotami, zebras and baboons. The zone also has grizzly and black bears, peacocks, chimpanzees, silver foxes, ostriches, water buffalo and Galapagos tortoises.
The article does not specify as to why a zoo would be built on a sacred site, though perhaps it is possible the temple was discovered after the zoo was established. The temple of this pe-Inca people is called Huaca El Rosal.
Considering their age, the remains of the dogs were well-preserved. (Credit: Luckez Olmos)
“In Huaca El Rosal [pre-Incan temple] we found 10 dogs, two guinea pigs and a human burial,” said a woman identified as Lucenida Carrion, head of archaeology, Middendorf Museum at the Park Leyendas, according to the blog.
“This is from 1,000 years ago and belongs to the Ychsma culture. But these burials were found along the construction of the Lima culture, on a previous building. It has been reused, reoccupied at a later date.”
The blog states that the dogs’ legs were all tied, they had leashes around their neck, and they were entombed in a sleeping position.
According to the blog, which quotes Reuters, the investigators think the dogs were a sacrifice to the gods, and the locals may have slain them so they could act as guides in the afterlife. How a dog with its legs tied could guide anyone anywhere is not stated in this source.
“The dogs were positioned as though they were sleeping directly on the stones," the woman identified as Ms. Carrion is reported to have said.
“On this filling, they are tied by the front and rear legs and neck. Many of them had the rope tied around their neck. That is how they were found, as if they were sleeping, so we think that is part of a sacrifice,” Reuters quotes Ms. Carrion as saying, according to the Archaeology News Network.
The dogs’ fur was brown, and the guinea pigs’, the article states. The dogs, both small and large, are of a type of street dog that still roam the city.
Apparently, these are not the first human-dog burials found in the zoo. The blog, citing local media reports, states that in 2012 and ’13, skeletons or remains of 134 humans and 138 dogs were discovered.
An article about the find on ScienceMag.org says it is unknown how the humans died. There are layers of civilization in Lima going back centuries, the article states.
The ScienceMag.org article states that the Ychsma came into the area and violently displaced the Lima culture, who made their living fishing around 300 to 800 AD. Around 1000, they abandoned their buildings, and the agricultural Yschsma moved in.
The ScienceMag.org report seems to contradict the blog and Reuters, saying the dogs were lying in peaceful repose.
“Some of the dogs still had skin and hair; a few were so well-preserved that they still had noses and ears,” the ScienceMag.org article states.
The article also states:
The human skeletons offer a tantalizing clue. They represent both men and women, mostly between the ages of 20 and 40—an unlikely age to die of natural causes. Many of them show signs of violent injury, including skull fractures, cracked ribs, and broken limbs. These injuries show no sign of having healed, meaning they were sustained immediately before death and were likely fatal. The dogs, however, show no signs of fatal wounds on their skeletons, leading Venegas Gutiérrez to suspect they were probably strangled.
Featured image: One of the dogs that was found buried with a human in what is now the Lima zoo. The zoo has underneath it layers of previous civilizations, as does much of Lima. (Credit: Rubén Sánchez)