Incas Drugged Child-Sacrifice Victims First
Hair samples from 3 mummies show alcohol, cocaine
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2013 7:14 PM CDT
Updated Aug 4, 2013 10:17 AM CDT
The mummy "La Doncella" or "The Maiden" sits on display at the High Mountain Archeological Museum in Salta, Argentina.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

(Newser) – About the best that can be said about three children killed by the Incas in a sacrifice ritual 500 years ago is that they might not have felt a thing. New analysis of hair samples from the mummies found near the summit of a volcano in Argentina show that they had been given alcohol and cocaine (in the form of coca leaves) before their deaths, reports the BBC. The evidence suggests that the trio—a girl about 15 known as the "Maiden," and a girl and boy ages 4 to 5—were sedated before being placed in their tombs, adds National Geographic. The older girl, for example, seemed to be chewing a lump of coca when she died.

Much more is known about her, relatively speaking. Researchers think she was a peasant girl selected for sacrifice about a year before her death, and she received special treatment during that time, reports the Christian Science Monitor. She "became somebody other than who she was before," says the lead UK author. "Her sacrifice was seen as an honor." Hair samples show that she switched from a diet of potatoes to a much richer one in her final year, and her consumption of coca leaves and alcohol spiked. She might well have been in a drug-induced stupor in her final weeks.