Archaeologists in Peru say they have discovered the jawbone of a fetus among the remains of a sacrificed woman in a pre-Inca tomb, suggesting the Lambayeque culture practiced the atypical sacrifice of pregnant women and their children.
The remains of the woman and unborn child were found in a tomb with three other sacrificed women and several sacrificial llamas, lead archaeologist Carlos Wester La Torre told The Associated Press.
In all, Wester La Torre's team reported finding the remains of seven women in two tombs at the Chotuna Chornancap archaeological site, each showing signs of having been cut at the throat.
The sacrifice of a pregnant woman ''is very unusual'' in the pre-Inca world, said respected Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva, who was not involved in the discovery.
''The concept of fertility was well respected, so this could represent a sacrifice for a very important religious event,'' he said Wednesday.
Chotuna Chornancap is a sacred site of the Lambayeque culture, which flourished in northern Peru between 800 and 1350 A.D.
Wester La Torre said he believes the sacrifices were made to honor the reconstruction of the temple at Chotuna Chornancap or an important member of the Lambayeque culture possibly buried nearby.
The archaeologist said his team plans to continue excavating the site and hopes to find a possible central tomb.
Also Wednesday, archaeologist Luis Guevara said that eight tombs containing the remains of 21 bodies were discovered in a separate dig, in a temple in the Sacsayhuaman fortress in the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco.
Guevara said the largest of the tombs contained 10 bodies, probably servants to Inca royalty buried in the temple.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.