Experts believe they have found the burial site of the largest child sacrifice ritual ever recorded.
The skeletons of 227 children, who were all slaughtered at the same time, have been uncovered in a mass grave on the north coast of Peru.
Archaeologists believe the kids, born into the Chimú empire, were sacrificed in a ritual to stop disasters linked to the El Nino phenomenon, The Sun reports.
The youngsters, between the ages of four and 14, are understood to have been brutally killed up to 1400 years ago.
Some still have skin and hair, and some were found to have been wearing silver earmuffs.
The religious leaders who carried out the killings were part of the Chimú empire, a powerful society that predated the Incas.
Archaeologists found the mass slaughter site in the Pampa La Cruz sector in Huanchaco, a coastal municipality of Trujillo, north of Lima.
“We are the largest place where remains of sacrificed children have been found. There is no other (in the world),” archaeologist Feren Castillo told AFP.
It is thought the youngsters were sacrificed to appease gods and stop bad weather.
“They were sacrificed to appease the El Nino phenomenon. We have found more evidence of rainfall in the findings,” Mr Castillo added.
This weather phenomenon, which occurs when the Pacific Ocean becomes very warm, can have disastrous impacts in Peru and other countries.
In 2017, El Nino triggered flooding and landslides that killed 162 and destroyed thousands of homes.
The Huanchaco child grave is not the first mass discovery of kids slaughtered in Pampa La Cruz.
In June 2018, remains of 56 children were discovered.
Pampa la Cruz is just 2km from Huanchaquito, where 140 children and 200 llamas offered in a similar ritual were discovered.
That team also uncovered the remains of 132 more youngsters in a site nearby.
Those children are believed to have been killed by having their hearts ripped out in a gruesome ritual.
Their remains had cuts to their breastbones, which are believed to have been made by a ceremonial knife, National Geographic reported.
Dislocated rib cages suggest whoever carried out the bloody sacrifices tried to tear out the hearts of each victim.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission