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UVU Professor Presents ‘Human Sacrifice in Ancient Peru’

5 November 2009 No Comment

November 5, 2009
For Immediate Release

For more information: Danny Damron (801) 863-8703
University Marketing & Communications: Erin Spurgeon, (801) 863-6807
Written by: Alex Strickland (801) 863-6351

Utah Valley University’s own version of fictional adventurer Indiana Jones will take the stage next week to recount a South American discovery that’s seemingly taken straight from the silver screen. Assistant professor of anthropology Haagen Klaus will present findings from his revelatory uncovering of human sacrifice in the Peruvian Andes from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Thursday Nov. 12 in UVU’s Ragan Theater.

Klaus will recount his 2007 discovery and study of 33 victims – mostly women – of human sacrifice buried in the side of an ancient pyramid in the Lambayeque Valley, Peru. The victims were the first indication of large-scale human sacrifice discovered in the 100-year history of Peruvian archeology.

“The blood sacrifice of a large group of women is something that is very, very unusual. It’s the first time that we’ve ever seen this,” Klaus said. The discovery was recently featured by National Geographic.

“Based at UVU, this international bioarchaeology project aims to understand the way human societies impacted human biology and genetics – from the first paleoindian settlers, ancient empires, and through European conquest to modern day life,” Klaus said. “The study of ancient ritual violence is a part of building a broader understanding of how human beings perceived and interacted with one of the most hostile environments on earth.”

Klaus and his students analyzed the bodies in 2008 and 2009, studying each sacrifice victim down to the finest biological and forensic details to glean clues into how they lived, died and why they were so violently sacrificed. The research is part of the Lambayeque Valley Biohistory Project, which Klaus has directed since its inception in 2003.

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