Archeologists in Peru unearthed the remains of more than 140 children killed in a mass sacrifice 550 years ago Thursday, claiming it may be the largest human sacrifice in history.
In an email, Dr Quilter said the site provides "concrete evidence" that large scale sacrifices of children occurred in ancient Peru.
Acknowledging that the discovery of human sacrifice has been found among the Aztec, Inca and Mayan cultures, Nat Geo noted that the Chimú find "is unprecedented in the Americas - if not the world".
The archaeological site, formally known as "Huanchaquito-Las Llamas", is located less than half a mile from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Chan Chan.
"They were possibly offering the gods the most important thing they had as a society, and the most important thing is children because they represent the future", said Gabriel Prieto, an archaeology professor at Peru's National University of Trujillo, who has led the excavation along with John Verano of Tulane University.
The remains of more than 140 children and 200 young llamas were found under residential compounds outside the city of Trujillo, in Peru's northwest, National Geographic reports.
The children range in age from 5 to 14, had their faces smeared with red pigment and were buried facing out to sea. Residents of Huanchaco first noticed human bones in 2011, in coastal dunes near the capital of the former Chimú empire.
"I, for one, never expected it".
Aside from the astounding number of child and llama skeletons, the 7,500-square-foot site also yielded the remains of three adults, which had been less ceremoniously entombed and which experts believe may have been involved in the mass sacrifice.
The children's bodies were buried facing west, towards the Pacific Ocean, while the llamas were buried facing east, toward the Andes mountains. "Skeletal evidence clearly indicates that the children and camelids were sacrificed by cutting open the thoracic cavity", the researchers reported.
In addition, archaeologists also discovered rope and textiles, which have been radiocarbon dated to between 1400 and 1450.
From the footprints, it appears that the children and llamas were led in a single line and sacrificed one after the other. They had all apparently died of violent head wounds, and it is surmised they may have participated in the sacrifices.
That is not to say that sometimes birds or other animals, and even young children weren't sacrificed to the Moon.
The researchers are now trying to figure out why these children were sacrificed. The layer could have been caused by the rains in the usually dry area - probably linked to extreme weather event such as the El Nino.