Archaeologists in Peru are excited after unearthing a pair of ancient metal cat’s claws from the tomb of dead nobleman.
The paws were found at the archaeological site of Huaca de la Luna or Temple of the Moon - a shrine located in the capital city of the Moche civilization, a Peruvian culture that flourished in South America between 100 and 800 AD.
The scientists who discovered the grave suggest that the claws might have been part of a ritual costume used in ceremonial combat, according to a report from El Comercia.
Participants dressed in outfits made of animal skins and the loser was sacrificed to the gods while the winner kept the garments as a mark of distinction.
The claws were found alongside the skeleton of an adult male with other artefacts – including a copper sceptre, mask and earrings – suggesting that he was “an elite personage”.
Archaeologists believe that the Moche religion featured human sacrifice prominently, with ritual battles amongst the elite used to decide the victims.
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Artwork associated with the Moche also emphasizes the circulation of fluids, a symbolic preoccupation that is thought to have arisen from their dependence on irrigation for agricultural wealth.
Unfortunately, this motif extended to bodily fluids as well, and it's thought that sacrificial victims were often kept alive for weeks at a time while blood was drawn from their bodies.