Cajamarquilla (Pérou): Well preserved pre-Incan mummy found in underground burial chamber

Bob Yirka 

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Well preserved pre inc 1Credit: National University of San Marcos

A team of researchers with the National University of San Marcos has found and recovered a well-preserved pre-Incan mummy in an underground tomb. They have posted their findings on the university's Noticias page.

Prior research has shown that the area on the outskirts of modern Lima was once part of a bustling ancient community of as many as 10,000 people. Those who lived there were mostly traders, serving as go-betweens for people from the mountains and those who lived on the coast of what is now Peru. Researchers have been excavating a site there called the Cajamarquilla archaeological complex, which is located approximately 25 kilometers from Lima.

Recently, the team discovered an underground burial chamber large enough to allow the archeologists to walk around nearly upright (approximately 3 meters long by 1.4 meters high). Inside, they found a staircase that led down to the floor where they found well-preserved mummified remains of a young man—the team estimates that he was likely between 18 and 22 years old. The mummy was lying partially on his side against a pile of rocks and against the wall of the burial chamber, and was bound by ropes over his body—his hands appeared to be clutching his face. The mummy was so well-preserved that details such as fingernails were apparent. The researchers note that while the imagery might appear gruesome to modern people, the custom of roping deceased people was quite common during the period. They have dated the mummy to approximately 1,200 to 800 years ago. They also found the remains of a dog and a guinea pig near the mummy.

Interestingly, the researchers also found the remains of mollusks on the ground near the entrance to the burial chamber. They suggest they were likely left over from a meal eaten by people visiting the grave site. They also found llama bones nearby. Both suggest that the young man's remains were visited for a time after his death by mourners. They note that visiting grave sites was a common practice for pre-Incan civilizations.