Herds for Gods? Sacrifice and Camelids Management during the Chimú Period

Author(s): Nicolas Goepfert; Gabriel Prieto; John Verano

Year: 2017


Although domestic Andean camelids are native from the highlands they have been largely present in the Peruvian coast since the end of Early Horizon (near 200 BC). This presence stresses the symbolic, ritual importance and economic values of camelids. In 2011 an impressive human and animal sacrificial context dating from the Chimú period was found in Huanchaquito near Chan Chan on the northern coast. At least 130 children and 200 camelids were uncovered during the successive excavations that took place between 2011 and 2016. This is undoubtedly the biggest sacrificial deposit of camelids dating from the pre-Hispanic times found in the Central Andes. This exceptional context raises questions about herd management by Chimú populations. During the Inca period camelids were separated according to their color pattern and some colors especially devoted to the divinities and rituals ceremonies. Was this system created by the Incas or did it have predecessors? We hypothesize that Chimús had similar practices which may have inspired the Incas. In this paper we will use different elements, such as mortality profiles and coat color, to test this assertion and the possible descent link between the two periods.

Cite this Record

Herds for Gods? Sacrifice and Camelids Management during the Chimú Period. Nicolas Goepfert, Gabriel Prieto, John Verano. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431641)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16145