Category Archives: PERU

Children’s Teeth Reveal Breastfeeding Practices in Ancient Peru

Children’s Teeth Reveal Breastfeeding Practices in Ancient Peru

For thousands of years, breastfeeding habits have remained almost unchanged in the Peruvian Andes, according to an unprecedented research project at an archaeological site in Caral, the oldest civilisation in the Americas and the origin of Andean culture.

There, in a cemetery filled with the bodies of children believed to be buried around 500 B.C., researchers discovered that the way these kids were breastfed was akin to how mothers do it in modern-day rural communities in the Andes.

Tooth analysis of the remains of 48 children showed that the majority were breastfed exclusively for the first six months and were not completely weaned until 2.6 years of age, which is still the case in the most rural and traditional Andean populations.

“We expected a younger age, like in modern times, where due to work issues and social pressures, children are weaned practically at 9 months,” Luis Pezo-Lanfranco, the Peruvian bioarchaeologist leading the study, tells Efe.

Pezo-Lanfranco says that it is very likely intermittent breastfeeding occurred in Caral, the civilization that developed 130 kilometres (over 80 miles) north of Lima between the years 3,000 to 1,800 B.C.

To be sure, researchers need to find a cemetery from that period. A few burial sites from that time in Caral have been recovered but the preservation of bones was too poor to find stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, which reveal breastfeeding patterns.

Researchers are nevertheless confident that those breastfeeding habits found in infants buried in Chupacigarro ravine cemetery, just a kilometre from the sacred city of Caral, were inherited from the Americas’ first civilization.

“In Caral, many cultural forms were created that are traditional for the Andes,” says Pedro Novoa, deputy director of Caral research and conservation of materials.

While the discovery of a cemetery that would confirm the Caral researchers’ hypothesis has evaded them, indications of the significance that breastfeeding held in this primitive society have been found in several nearby urban centres.

It can be seen in a series of clay statuettes representing women breastfeeding their infants and others who hold their babies in their laps, in an allegory of motherhood discovered in Vichama, one of Caral’s 12 urban centres.

Children’s Teeth Reveal Breastfeeding Practices in Ancient Peru

According to the study, it is still not clear whether that long breastfeeding period was a nutritional supplement or was due to food shortages.

Ruth Shady, the director of Caral archaeological investigations, says the high infant mortality may have been due to drought and famine.

“The drought is the main problem they faced, and it is very possible that this was what caused death among these children,” adds Shady, who has been studying Caral since 1994.

Peru: Skeletal remains of 25 people found at Chan Chan archaeological site

Peru: Skeletal remains of 25 people found at Chan Chan archaeological site

According to an Andina report, the remains of 25 people and some 70 artefacts and ceramic vessels have been uncovered in a raised area near the southern wall at Chan Chan, the 1,100-year-old Chimu capital on the coast of northern Peru. 

Peru: Skeletal remains of 25 people found at Chan Chan archaeological site

It was located in Trujillo Province (La Libertad region) – archaeologists behind this important find have reported.

According to Jorge Meneses —head of the archaeological research project— this find is unusual due to its characteristics and location in a raised area of ​​the Utzh An (Great Chimu) walled complex.

“Most of them (the remains) belonged to women under 30 who were buried with objects used in textile activities, a couple of children, and a couple of teenagers.

It is a very specific population, not too young considering the average human lifespan was 40 years, “I have remarked.

Meneses said that this discovery took place three weeks ago during the fourth season of works on the southern wall at Chan Chan. 

The skeletal remains were found in an area of ​​10 square meters, arranged in two levels of the embankment, along with approximately 70 vessels and objects used in textile work.

Burial place for Chimu elite


For her part, Sinthya Cueva —head of the Chan Chan Archaeological Research Program— confirmed that the discovery took place three weeks ago and may have been a burial place for members of the Chimu elite.

“This is something new to us because, in spite of this, we are finding individuals and not simple ones, but of a more relevant category due to the number of objects placed with them as an offering. We may be walking over more remains, “Cave stated.

“We have found several individuals in the western part (of the site) since 2020, and we expect to continue to do so across the eastern sector in the coming seasons. That’s why we suggest that all this raised area could be a pre-Hispanic cemetery, “she added.

Workers digging gas pipes in Peru find the 2,000-year-old gravesite

Workers digging gas pipes in Peru find the 2,000-year-old gravesite

The AFP reports that workers laying a new gas pipe in the La Victoria district of the city of Lima discovered a 2,000-year-old grave containing some 40 ceramic vessels.

Workers digging gas pipes in Peru find the 2,000-year-old gravesite
A work crew laying a natural gas pipe under a street in Lima, Peru stumbled across a 2,000-year-old burial site, including the remains of six people and ceramic vessels.

Workers laying gas pipes on a street in the Peruvian capital Lima stumbled on the remains of a pre-Hispanic gravesite that included 2,000-year-old ceramic burial vessels, an archaeologist said Thursday.

“This find that we see today is 2,000 years old,” archaeologist Cecilia Camargo told AFP at the site.

“So far, there are six human bodies that we have recovered, including children and adults, accompanied by a set of ceramic vessels that were expressly made to bury them.”

Experts believe the site in the Lima district of La Victoria may be linked to the culture known as “Blanco sobre Rojo,” or “White on Red,” which settled on the central coast of Peru in the valleys of Chillon, Rimac and Lurin, the three rivers that cross Lima.

“So far, we have recovered about 40 vessels of different shapes related to the White on Red style,” said Camargo, head of the cultural heritage department at the natural gas company Calidda.

“Some bottles are very distinctive of this period and style, which have a double spout and a bridge handle,” Camargo said.

As finds of ancient artefacts and remains occur frequently in Peru, all public service companies that do excavations have in house archaeologists, including Calidda, a Colombian-funded company that distributes natural gas in Lima and in the neighboring port of Callao.

Specialists work around the ancient burial site found by a crew laying a natural gas pipe under a street in Lima, Peru on November 04, 2021.

New Horrifying Secrets of Peru’s Ancient Civilizations Unearthed in The Andes

New Horrifying Secrets of Peru’s Ancient Civilizations Unearthed in The Andes

The foothills of the Andes mountains are revealing their bloody secrets: the ancient skeletons of sacrificed children. Archaeologists have unearthed 29 human bodies entombed approximately 1,000 years ago at Huaca Santa Rosa de Pucalá, an archaeological site in the Lambayeque region of northwestern Peru.

New Horrifying Secrets of Peru's Ancient Civilizations Unearthed in The Andes
An overhead view of the excavation site.

Four of the skeletons – belonging to two children, a teenager and one adult – date to the Wari culture.

These four skeletons represent the region’s first known examples of human offerings from the Wari civilization, Edgar Bracamonte Lévano, the excavation’s director and research archaeologist with the Royal Tombs of Sipán museum, told Live Science in an email.

In addition to human remains, the excavation uncovered skeletons from eight guinea pigs, as well as several alpacas and llamas, all of which were likely sacrificed. They also uncovered pots, bottles, and a knife with a half-moon-shaped blade.

Bracamonte Lévano recognized the tombs as Wari because they were surrounded by three distinctive, D-shaped enclosures typical of the culture’s religious spaces.

The human offerings may have been “part of a possible ritual carried out at the time of starting the construction of these Wari-style religious spaces,” he said.

In addition to the four human offerings, the archaeological team uncovered a fifth individual who had undergone secondary burial. “That is to say, he was buried elsewhere and [then] reburied inside the D-shaped enclosure,” Bracamonte Lévano said.

A human skeleton unearthed at Huaca Santa Rosa de Pucalá

The Wari civilization flourished along the mountains and coasts of modern-day Peru from around AD 500 to 1000.

Wari people were known for their finely woven textiles and sculpted pottery, as well as their roads and terraced agriculture, according to the World History Encyclopedia. These roads would later be incorporated into parts of the Inca Empire.

While the exact structure of Wari society remains open to debate, archaeologists have found evidence suggesting that religion was deeply intertwined with politics and that women were included at the highest levels of governance, as Live Science previously reported.

The other 25 skeletons found buried – though not sacrificed – at the site belonged to the Mochica, or Moche, culture. This civilization thrived in what is now Lambayeque from around AD 100 to 700, and would later be supplanted by the Wari.

READ ALSO: RED PAINT ON THE 1,000-YEAR-OLD GOLD MASK FROM PERU CONTAINS HUMAN BLOOD PROTEINS

Unlike Wari art, which tends toward abstract shapes and patterns, Moche art is famous for its more literal, naturalistic style. That makes artefacts from the two cultures easily distinguishable, Bracamonte Lévano said. 

Among the most significant Moche discoveries in recent years is the Lady of Cao mummy, a tattooed noblewoman whose forensic reconstruction was the subject of a 2017 National Geographic documentary.

The Lord of Sipán, another famous Moche mummy discovered in 1987, resides in the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum under Bracamonte Lévano’s watchful eye. 

Red paint on the 1,000-year-old gold mask from Peru contains human blood proteins

Red paint on 1,000-year-old gold mask from Peru contains human blood proteins

Thirty years ago, archaeologists excavated the tomb of an elite 40–50-year-old man from the Sicán culture of Peru, a society that predated the Incas. The man’s seated, the upside-down skeleton was painted bright red, as was the gold mask covering his detached skull.

Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research have analyzed the paint, finding that, in addition to a red pigment, it contains human blood and bird egg proteins.

The Sicán was a prominent culture that existed from the ninth to 14th centuries along the northern coast of modern Peru.

During the Middle Sicán Period (about 900–1,100 A.D.), metallurgists produced a dazzling array of gold objects, many of which were buried in tombs of the elite class. In the early 1990s, a team of archaeologists and conservators led by Izumi Shimada excavated a tomb where an elite man’s seated skeleton was painted red and placed upside down at the centre of the chamber.

The skeletons of two young women were arranged nearby in birthing and modifying poses, and two crouching children’s skeletons were placed at a higher level.

Among the many gold artefacts found in the tomb was a red-painted gold mask, which covered the face of the man’s detached skull. At the time, scientists identified the red pigment in the paint as cinnabar, but Luciana de Costa Carvalho, James McCullagh and colleagues wondered what the Sicán people had used in the paint mix as a binding material, which had kept the paint layer attached to the metal surface of the mask for 1,000 years.

To find out, the researchers analyzed a small sample of the mask’s red paint. Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy revealed that the sample contained proteins, so the team conducted a proteomic analysis using tandem mass spectrometry.

Red paint on 1,000-year-old gold mask from Peru contains human blood proteins
A red paint sample taken from a 1,000-year-old mask excavated from a Sicán tomb in Peru contains human blood and bird egg proteins, in addition to a red pigment.

They identified six proteins from human blood in the red paint, including serum albumin and immunoglobulin G (a type of human serum antibody). Other proteins, such as ovalbumin, came from egg whites. Because the proteins were highly degraded, the researchers couldn’t identify the exact species of bird’s egg used to make the paint, but a likely candidate is the Muscovy duck.

The identification of human blood proteins supports the hypothesis that the arrangement of the skeletons was related to a desired “rebirth” of the deceased Sicán leader, with the blood-containing paint that coated the man’s skeleton and face mask potentially symbolizing his “life force,” the researchers say.

The authors do not acknowledge any funding sources.

The abstract that accompanies this article is available here.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people.

The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News.

ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most-read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research.

As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

The Discovery of ancient Peruvian burial tombs sheds new light on Wari culture

The Discovery of ancient Peruvian burial tombs sheds new light on Wari culture

A team of archaeologists in northern Peru discovered the remains of 29 people, including three children, that could help experts rewrite the history of the pre-Incan Wari civilization, the lead researcher said on Friday.

The skeletons were buried more than 1,000 years ago in Huaca Santa Rosa de Pucala, an ancient ceremonial centre in the coastal region of Lambayeque, 750 kilometres to the north of Lima.

The burials of the three children and a teenager at the front of the temple indicated they were human sacrifices from the Wari culture, Edgar Bracamonte, the lead researcher, told AFP.

Discovery of ancient Peruvian burial tombs sheds new light on Wari culture
An undated handout picture released by the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum of one of the 29 human remains discovered at an ancient ceremonial site in Lambayeque

It is the first time a discovery linked to the Wari civilization has been made this far from their area of influence, said Bracamonte.

“These discoveries allow us to rethink the history of the Lambayeque region, especially the links to Wari and Mochica occupations in the area,” said Bracamonte.

The Wari culture flourished in the central Peruvian Andes from the seventh to 13th centuries.

The Huaca Santa Rosa de Pucala enclosure, in the form of the letter ‘D’, was built between 800 and 900 AD.

“We found a ceremonial temple with 29 human remains, 25 belonging to the Mohica era and four to the Wari culture,” said Bracamonte.

The Mochica, or Moche, culture developed from 100 to 700 AD on the northern Peruvian coast.

READ ALSO: THE MYTHICAL PERUVIAN GIANTS, WHOSE SKELETONS WERE SEEN BY CONQUISTADORS

The 25 Mochica remains were found in clay tombs and burial chambers in a temple. Researchers also found pieces of pottery and the remains of camelids—such as llamas and alpacas—and guinea pigs.

One of the most significant discoveries related to the Mochica culture was in 2006 with the unearthing of the fifth century Lady of Cao mummy, which showed the civilization included female leaders.

The 1987 discovery of another mummy, the third century Lord of Sipan, is considered by experts one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the last few decades, as the main tomb was found intact and untouched by thieves.

The Discovery of ancient Peruvian burial tombs sheds new light on Wari culture

Discovery of ancient Peruvian burial tombs sheds new light on Wari culture

A team of archaeologists in northern Peru discovered the remains of 29 people, including three children, that could help experts rewrite the history of the pre-Incan Wari civilization, the lead researcher said on Friday.

Discovery of ancient Peruvian burial tombs sheds new light on Wari culture
An undated handout picture was released by the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum of one of the 29 human remains discovered at an ancient ceremonial site in Lambayeque.

The skeletons were buried more than 1,000 years ago in Huaca Santa Rosa de Pucala, an ancient ceremonial centre in the coastal region of Lambayeque, 750 kilometres to the north of Lima.

The burials of the three children and a teenager at the front of the temple indicated they were human sacrifices from the Wari culture, Edgar Bracamonte, the lead researcher, told AFP.

It is the first time a discovery linked to the Wari civilization has been made this far from their area of influence, said Bracamonte.

“These discoveries allow us to rethink the history of the Lambayeque region, especially the links to Wari and Mochica occupations in the area,” said Bracamonte.

The Wari culture flourished in the central Peruvian Andes from the seventh to 13th centuries.

The Huaca Santa Rosa de Pucala enclosure, in the form of the letter ‘D’, was built between 800 and 900 AD.

“We found a ceremonial temple with 29 human remains, 25 belonging to the Mohica era and four to the Wari culture,” said Bracamonte.

The Mochica, or Moche, culture developed from 100 to 700 AD on the northern Peruvian coast.

The 25 Mochica remains were found in clay tombs and burial chambers in a temple. Researchers also found pieces of pottery and the remains of camelids—such as llamas and alpacas—and guinea pigs.

One of the most significant discoveries related to the Mochica culture was in 2006 with the unearthing of the fifth century Lady of Cao mummy, which showed the civilization included female leaders.

The 1987 discovery of another mummy, the third century Lord of Sipan, is considered by experts one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the last few decades, as the main tomb was found intact and untouched by thieves.

Gas pipe workers find 800-year-old bodies in Peru

Gas pipe workers find 800-year-old bodies in Peru

Gas pipe workers have discovered the remains of eight people, who were buried alongside musical instruments and food in Peru 800 years ago. Bodies of adults and children had been covered in plant material before being buried, at the site in Chilca, Peru, which is about 37 miles (60km) south of Lima. 

Workers laying gas pipes found the remains with corn, dishes, and a variety of wind instruments, including flutes, placed around them.

Cecilia Camargo, an archaeologist hired by the Calidda gas company, whose workers made the discovery, said it provides information on pre-Hispanic Chilca.

Gas pipe workers find 800-year-old bodies in Peru
Food, artefacts and ancient funeral bundles containing the remains of eight inhabitants were uncovered by workers of the gas-distributing company Calidda, during the installation of natural gas pipes in Chilca, Peru

The history of Chilca dates back to about 7000 BCE, with houses discovered going back as far as 5800 BCE, according to archaeologists. 

The recently discovered remains were of people alive around 1220 CE, during the rise of the Inca empire, but are said to belong to the Chilca culture, which remained isolated from other pre-Hispanic cultures in the area.

The Incan empire reigned until the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century when the Hispanic era began.

Some of the eight people found in the shared tomb had been buried with shells on their heads and had bags in which coca leaves, traditionally chewed as a stimulant, are kept. 

Workers of the same company found another 30 ancient bodies in Chilca in 2018 as part of efforts to lay gas pipes.

For nearly two decades, workers for Calidda, building gas lines across Peru’s capital, Lima, have found themselves unearthing a treasure trove of history.

Archaeologists have been working through the remains to better understand the people that lived in the pre-Hispanic village
Workers of the same company found another 30 ancient bodies in Chilca in 2018 as part of efforts to lay gas pipes

In 2018 the team came across four burials accompanied by ceramics from a pre-Incan civilization. Two years earlier, they found the bodies of farmers who had been among the first wave of Chinese immigrants in the 19th century. 

‘Lima literally sits atop a cultural bank,’ with one layer of history atop another, Alexis Solis, an archaeologist working for Calidda national gas, said last year.

The Colombia-based company says it has installed about 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometres) of natural gas lines across Lima over the past 16 years.

As part of this effort, it has reported about 300 archaeological finds, some of them 2,000 years old and spent $2 million on the archaeological effort.

Peruvian law requires that archaeological discoveries be reported and turned over to the Culture Ministry, but some developers haven’t followed the law.

In 2013, workers for real estate developers destroyed a 4,500-year-old pyramid-shaped structure on the edges of the capital city Lima.

Lima is located in a valley irrigated by three rivers fed from the Andes, and housed human civilisations thousands of years before the Spanish arrived in 1535. 

It is scattered with cemeteries, irrigation canals, structures and ancient roads, with thin, vulnerable layers of deposited earth separating vastly different eras.

‘The physical difference between the present and antiquity is but a few centimetres,’ Solis said in an interview last year.