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The Capacocha, Human sacrifices in the Inca Empire

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The Qero led the young woman up Hamp’atu, followed by a procession of her family, friends, and priests of the Sapa Inca.
At the Huaca, the girl, still euphoric from the effects of the ayahuasca and drunk from the chicha was lowered into the tomb, wrapped in her colorful ceremonial aksu, and alpaca woolen shawl. At an elevation of over 6,000 meters above sea level her clothing did little to protect her from the elements.
To further help keep her calm, the Qero inserted a handful of coca leaves into her mouth.
The other two children joined her in a similar way, as her father, newly appointed chief of their village, proudly looked on. A cloth was held to the back of the girl’s head, and the Qero applied a firm blow with his staff, to render her unconscious.
The two younger children were dealt with in the same fashion.
Offerings were carefully placed around them, the wooden toy llama, gold and silver figurines, spondylus shells, and ceremonial bowls filled with the appropriate herbs.
As the tomb was sealed, the exalted Qero vocalized the rapturous virtues of the Sun God, Inti and the Sapa Inca to the mesmerized crowd before him. Long after all of the rituals had ended, and the crowd retreated down to the community, hundred of meters below, the dazed guys succumbed to the effects of the cold, to rest forever as an intermediary between man and the gods of Cuzco.

Pills of real life, at the time.
The Capacocha ritual, or Qhapaq Hucha ,was a year-long Inca proceeding that culminated with the sacrifice of children as offerings to, primarily, the Sun God, Inti.
Unblemished boys, up to 10-years-old, and unsullied girls, up to 16-years-old, were nominated, as offerings for protection from natural disasters, such as earthquakes and droughts, or to preserve order following the death of the Sapa Inca, the supreme leader of the Inca civilization. They had to be perfect, unblemished by even a freckle or scar.
The Sapa Inca were believed to be direct descendants of Inti, who was the son of Viracocha, the Supreme God and Creator of All Things, and father of Manco Capac, a founder of Cuzco.
The children of chieftains were often selected to undergo a year-long preparation for the occasion.
From the initial stages, the diets of the chosen children were changed from a sustenance largely consisting of potatoes, to the foods usually reserved for nobility, such as corn and llama meat.
To battle depression and anxieties for their impending deaths, the children were given ayahuasca, a distilled drink made from banisteriopsis caapi and psychotria viridis, plants found in the Amazon rain forest, that, a combination that causes hallucinations and euphoria. Cicha, a beer made from corn, and coca leaves also helped the children face their fates.
And then the elaborately clad children were led to Cuzco, for an audience with the emperor, paired up and attended ceremonies that included feasts and processions around the statues of Viracocha, The Creator, Inti, the Sun God, Momma Quilla, Goddess of the Moon, and Apu Illapu, the God of Thunder.
After it was determined which huaca each child would be sent to, and with what offerings, all recorded by the priests, the victims were sent on their way.
However the treks to their destinations were long and arduous, and often taking months, as they did not take the established paths, but a straight, direct route, over tall mountains, and through deep valleys.
Once at the mountain at their journey’s end a staging area was built at a more habitable altitude, hundreds of meters below the summit, that included permanent structures for priests to inhabit. Building materials were also gathered for the summit of the mountain or volcano. A trail was blazed to the top, which often had altitudes of over 6,000 meters.
Huacas, or shrines were built, including sacrificial platforms and tomb like recesses and, once all construction was completed, finally the final ritual took place.
For many families it was a great honor to have one’s child chosen for the ceremony, and it was often children from noble families that were sacrificed in an effort to gain political favor with the emperor.

According to several sources and archaeological evidence, the children were led to the shrine dressed in colorful aksu, a brightly colored feather headdress, and a shawl made of llama wool.
A final round of chicha, and more cocoa leaves were given to the victims, sometimes causing unconsciousness. Evidence suggests also that some children received a firm blow to the back of the head before being interred into their death chamber, in a fetal position.
At least one mummy shows indications of being stabbed in the back of the neck, while others appear to have been suffocated or strangled. Most victims, however, simply passed away due to exposure to the elements, either from hypothermia, or probably even lightning strikes.
Non-human offerings would be placed around of the victims, including wooden carvings of llamas, gold and silver figurines, herbs, spondylus shells, and ceramic vessels.

Eventually their final resting place was sealed up, and the family received a plethora of honors. Shamans and priests, permanently in residence in the more habitable staging area hundred of meters below, made periodic pilgrimages to the shrines, leaving behind offerings of miniatures, ichu, a wild grass from lower elevations, and coca leaves. The discovery of these artefacts are often telltale signs that the site is, indeed, a capacocha site.

The first ritual is believed to have taken place during the reign of the 9th Sapa Inca, Pachacuti (1418-1472) who began the transformation of the Kingdom of Cuzco into the Empire of the Incas, at the expense of the Chimu.
Over 100 Wak’a, or shrines have been discovered on top of mountain peaks throughout the Andes, often along the ritual pathways, or ceque, built by the Incas, extending outward from Cuzco to the four corners of their empire on either an east-west or north-south axes.
Mountain summits and the tops of volcanos were chosen for the sacrifices for their proximity to the gods, especially the Sun God, believed to be the giver of life in the harsh climate of the Andes highlands.
Most of the Capacocha shrines dating to the Incan Late Horizon period, (1476-1534).
Strontium Isotope analysis suggests victims came from what is now Peru, Argentina, and Ecuador, including regions of the former Wari civilization and the Tiwanaku Empire around Lake Titcaca.

Either way early chronicles of the Capacocha come from Spanish historians of the Conquistadors, perhaps not the most reliable sources, as they sought to exaggerate the sacrifices to justify their own actions.
Accounts included the removal of the heart, which archaeological evidence seems to disprove.
The fullest description of a capacocha comes from a Spanish colonial clergy and chronicler Cristóbal de Molina, who placed it in the context of a monarch’s ascension.
He wrote that all of the towns of the empire were called upon to send one or two boys and girls about 10 years old to the capital, along with fine cloth, camelids, and figurines of gold, silver, and shell, dressed in finery and matched up as if they were married couples.
Priests were then dispatched to the four quarters with sacrificial items and orders to make offerings to all wak’a according to their rank. The parties left the city in straight-line paths, deviating for neither mountain nor ravine. At some point, the burdens were transferred to other porters, who continued along the route. The children who could walk would do so, while those who could not were carried by their mothers.

Images from web – Google Research

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