Dismembering in ancient Peru was purposeful for the powerful, study suggests

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Ancient Peruvian aristocrats dismembered their less well-off neighbors as a scare tactic, new archaeological finds suggest.

Several deformed corpses were found during recent excavations at the burial necropolis of El Trigal, a once-downtrodden community located in the Nazca province of Peru and dating to the 1st century A.D.

Members of nearby wealthier communities looking to send a message about their power may have been responsible for the mutilations, say archaeologists.

"When a dominant class appears, [it] always seeks mechanisms to impose fear," said Pedro Castro-Martinez of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), who headed up a study of the corpses. "The power of an elite is exercised and maintained by means of force and fear. Mutilations can be part of those tactics to frighten."

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