Archaeologists have unearthed a 1,000-year-old mummy completely intact and well-preserved in what is thought to be an Incan pilgrimage site in Peru.
Researchers led by Professor Peter Eeckhout have discovered the millennium-old preserved remains of a human body completely unscathed inside a funeral bundle found in the Pachacamac, Peru, a Pre-Colombian site converted by the Incan empire into a center for worship for their gods and deities.
A funeral bundle serves as a coffin for the deceased of the ancient Paracas culture. The dead body is usually placed in a fetal or sitting position and bundled in a long strip of cotton cloth. Often, the bundle also includes food, clothing, religious objects, and small badges of gold.
Finding A Millennium-Old Intact Mummy In Peru
Eeckhout and his team spent nine weeks digging into the area in what is known as the Ychsma excavation project, so-called after the native Ychsma people who thrived in ancient Pachacamac before the Incan empire conquered the region.
"Discoveries like this one are exceptionally scarce," says Eeckhout, "and this mummy is incredibly well-preserved."
The body is so intact, in fact, that the researchers can study it without unwrapping it. Although the results of carbon-14 dating have yet to be revealed, the researchers estimate that the mummy may have been buried sometime between 1,200 and 1,000 B.C.
The researchers are set to examine the mummy with the help of Christophe Moulherat of the Musée du quai Branly in France. Using X-ray scans, axial tomography, and 3D reconstruction, they hope to find out what the body's position is, what other objects are included in the bundle, and if the deceased harbored any diseases during their lifetime.
Ancient Pilgrimage Site Built By The Andean
The mummy was discovered in a sanctuary built for the worship of local ancestors, one of three monumental structures explored during the excavation. The sanctuary, which was later converted into a water shrine during the Incan rule, also contained Spondylus shells, thorny oysters used by the Andean cultures in their religious rituals.
Before the Incas took over this area, the site featured several funeral sites for thousands of mummies, 300 of which have been excavated by Eeckhout and his team. However, Spaniards looted the area during the Spanish conquest of Inca, rendering most of the earlier mummified discoveries difficult to study. Miraculously, one chamber remained intact. This is where the team discovered the mummy.
The team also explored an Inca monument for pilgrims and rituals, which they identified with offerings of seashells and various precious objects. The third structure is a chapel built for foreign pilgrims, where offerings of dogs were discovered.