Spanish researchers have found the remains of a shrine thought to be used by the ancient Inca civilization to sacrifice children to their gods.
The team also found a system of caves that were used to bury the sacrificial victims, known as a necropolis.
The religious sanctuary, discovered 150 kilometres north of Cusco in Peru, appears to have been built by the Vilcabamba Kingdom during the rule of Tupaq Inca Yupanqui.
‘The more I travelled, the more I realised how unexplored this region was,” said Miguel Garitao, the expedition’s leader. “What we could never have imagined was that it would be such a large ceremonial complex.”
Yupanqui was the Inca’s tenth ruler, leading the civilisation from 1471 to 1493. Under his rule, children were sacrificed to the gods after extreme weather and natural disasters, in the hopes that good fortune would return.
The Incas first appeared in the Andes during the twelfth century, gradually spreading throughout northern Ecuador to central Chile, thanks to their military strength.
However, by 1572, the Incas were overwhelmed by diseases and out-powered by Spanish invaders.
Machu Picchu, one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, is a monument to the power and achievement of the Incas at their peak. Learn more about this incredible complex of palaces, temples and homes below.