Mummy Peru: Remains of at least 800 years old discovered by archaeologists near Lima

LIMA, Peru – A mummy estimated to be between 800 and 1,200 years old has been discovered by archaeologists in Peru, at a site near the country’s capital, Lima.

Researchers from the National University of San Marcos found the preserved body underground in the middle of a public plaza at the Cajamarquilla archaeological site, about 25 kilometers inland from Lima.

The mummy was tied with ropes and its hands covering its face, according to what researchers say is a funeral custom in southern Peru. The mummy’s age means that it dates back to pre-Hispanic times and even predates the Inca civilization that established Peru’s best-known citadel, Machu Picchu, in the 15th century.

“The discovery of this resident sheds new light on interactions and relationships in pre-Hispanic times,” said Pieter Van Dalen Luna, one of the archaeologists who led the excavation.

He told CNN the mummy was most likely a young man between the ages of 25 and 30 who had come from the mountains to Cajamarquilla, once a bustling commercial center in pre-Columbian times.

Excavation work began in mid-October with a team of 40 led by Van Dalen Luna and his fellow archaeologist Yomira Huamán Santillán, and the find came as a surprise as they weren’t looking for a mummy.

“The whole team was really happy because we didn’t think it was going to happen,” Huamán told CNN. “We didn’t expect to make such an important discovery.”

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Another unexpected find involves several marine mollusks outside the mummy’s tomb, which Van Dalen Luna says is unusual given that Cajamarquilla is about 25 kilometers from the coast.

“Once the body is placed in the grave, there are constant events and activities,” Van Dalen Luna said. “That is, their descendants keep coming back for many years and depositing food and offerings there, including mollusks.”

Llama bones were also found outside the tomb, and Van Dalen Luna said it was commonly eaten by people at the time and therefore pieces of llama meat were offered to the deceased.

The circumstances of the discovery led the researchers to conclude that he was not an ordinary citizen, but probably an important person in contemporary society.

“Finding a mummy with these characteristics in the middle of the square clearly shows that he is a person of high rank,” Van Dalen Luna said, adding that among other options the person in question would have been able to be a leading trader.

The team will now perform other specialized analyzes, including carbon dating, which will allow them to pinpoint the period of time the person has lived and more details on their identity.

Several mummies have already been found in Peru and neighboring Chile, many of which are over 1,000 years old.

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