Category Archives: PERU

500-Year-Old Tomb Found in Peru

500-Year-Old Tomb Found in Peru

Scientists have unearthed an Inca-era tomb under a home in the heart of Peru’s capital, Lima, a burial believed to hold remains wrapped in cloth alongside ceramics and fine ornaments.

500-Year-Old Tomb Found in Peru
500-year old structure, found in working-class area of Lima, thought to contain remains of society elites

The lead archaeologist, Julio Abanto, told Reuters the 500-year-old tomb contained “multiple funerary bundles” tightly wrapped in cloth.

He said those entombed were probably from the elite of Ruricancho society, a culture that once populated present-day Lima before the powerful Inca came to rule a sprawling empire across the length of western South America in the 1400s.

Famed for their gold and sophisticated constructions, including the mountaintop royal retreat of Machu Picchu, the Inca were defeated by Spanish invaders in 1532.

Hipolito Tica, the owner of the house in Lima, said he was overcome with emotion at the surprise find. “It’s amazing. I really have no other words to describe it,” he said, expressing a hope that future generations in the working-class San Juan de Lurigancho neighbourhood would better appreciate the rich history all around them.

Excavations began in May after Tica’s building plans for his property triggered a required archaeological survey. The district of Lima is known for hundreds of past archaeological finds from cultures that developed before and after the Inca.

Mysterious Pyramids In The Amazon, Spotted By NASA Satellite In 1976

Mysterious Pyramids In The Amazon, Spotted By NASA Satellite In 1976

In 1976, NASA’s Landsat Satellite was orbiting Earth when it photographed mysterious dots in southeast Peru, at 71 degrees, 30 minutes west longitude in the Madre de Dios region of the Amazon.

The satellite photograph, archived under number C-S11-32W071-03 showed a mysterious set of formations, in the middle of Peru’s southeastern jungle.

The satellite image revealed structures symmetrically spaced and uniform in shape, looking like a series of eight or more pyramids, in at least four rows of two.

“The Dots” of Paratoari as seen in NASA satellite photograph

The curious formation became known as the Pyramids of Paratoari, or as many authors would later call them, The Dots of Peru, or the Pyramids of Pantiacolla.

The satellite image sent explorers, authors, and researchers into a frenzy as to what the curious structures are. The ‘pyramids’ became quite popular, especially since it is believed that the lost city of Paititi was located somewhere in that area.

The president of the South American Explorers Club, Don Montague wrote about the enigmatic structures in an article published in the South American Explorer Journal, where he described them as nothing other than odd geological formations.

However, many people who saw the satellite image were not convinced by Montague’s writing.

Proponents of the theory that the structure are not geological formations but in fact, manmade structures argue that the Pyramids were most likely built by a long-lost ancient civilization that inhabited the Amazonian rainforest thousands of years ago.

The alleged structure, many argue, has been devoured by the surrounding rainforest and is covered with thousands of years of vegetation.

Exploring The Pyramids

Despite the fact that the alleged pyramids’ structures are located in a remote part of the Amazonian rainforest, a number of expeditions have been mounted to explore, not only the alleged pyramids but the region in search of the lost city of Paititi.

The lost city of Paititi is a legendary ancient Incan metropolis, said to be located somewhere east of the Andes, within the dense and remote rainforests of southeast Peru, northern Bolivia or southwest Brazil.

Numerous expeditions to search for the lost city of Paititi were established, and some of them even searched for the alleged pyramids of Paratoari.

Between 1984-2011 various expeditions were led by Gregory Deyermenjian, a member of the explorer’s club and a Peruvian explorer.

These included the documentation of Incan remains in Mameria, the exploration and documentation of the petroglyphs at Pusharo, the exploration, and documentation of Manu’s Pyramids of Paratoari, and others.

Deyermenjian had discovered plenty of evidence of ancient Inca inhabitance in the area, including petroglyphs, paved roads, platforms, and plazas, but he did not find conclusive evidence that the mysterious structures spotted by NASA’s Landsat satellite were man-made structures.

Deyermenjian argued that the structures were natural sandstone formations known as truncated ridge spurs, which can take the form of natural pyramids.

Deyermenjian has since, in 1999 and 2006, seen and photographed various very similar sites in the area of the Río Timpía, with intriguingly pyramidal-shaped huge natural formations.

“In 1996, still without a helicopter, we again ensconced ourselves within the steamy lower jungles of Manu, in an area just to the south of Pusharo, to reach and make the first definitive examination of the “Pyramids of Paratoari,” eight apparently evenly spaced and unnaturally symmetrical hillocks which had caused a flurry of speculation as to their origin and relation to Paititi since having been spotted on a NASA satellite photograph twenty years before…”

But people were still amazed by the formations.

In 2001, French explorer Thierry Jamin investigated the site of Pantiacolla and is said to have investigated the pyramids, concluding that they are in fact natural formations. However, Jamin discovered several Inca artefacts in the same area.

In 2011, a British expedition to investigate the Pyramids of Paratoari with Kenneth Gawne, Lewis Knight, Ken Halfpenny, I. Gardiner and Darwin Moscoso as part of the documentary “The Secret of the Incas” took place.

Archaeologists Find Massive Underground World Belonging To A Long Lost Civilization In Peru

Archaeologists Find Massive Underground World Belonging To A Long Lost Civilization In Peru

Researchers in Peru have discovered a complex underground world belonging to the ancient Chavín culture that has been identified as burial chambers that date back thousands of years.

The culture developed in the northern Andean highlands of Peru between 1,300 and 550 BC. The Chavín extended its influence to other civilizations along the coast.

The Ancient Chavin civilization developed advanced knowledge not only in metallurgy, but in soldering, and temperature control. The ancient Chavin used early techniques to develop refined gold work.

Not, researchers have discovered galleries, ceramics and even a place where this civilization carried out burials, located beneath the surface. They say it’s the most important archaeological discovery made in the last 50 years.

Archaeologists Find Massive Underground World Belonging To A Long Lost Civilization In Peru
Seen in this image are the new underground galleries that have been found containing the first human burials of the Chavin period.

Since June of 2018, a team of archaeologists has unearthed three new galleries in an area adjacent to the circular plaza of Chavín. In the place, they have found remarkable pieces of ceramics, utensils and intact human burials.

According to an American anthropologist and archaeologist John Rick, in charge of the Archaeological and Conservation Research Program of Chavín, the three discovered galleries come from the late period of this civilization that developed between 1,300 and 550 BC.

“What these galleries show is that Chavín has a much larger underground world than we think,” said Rick.

The Ministry of Culture estimates that to date only 15% of the area has been explored.

Inside one of these underground galleries, archaeologists discovered artefacts that belonged to the later Huaraz culture.

These successive occupations, found at different levels in the archaeological complex demonstrate the cultural and religious importance that Chavin had in the central highlands for centuries.

The project’s specialists used small robots with built-in micro-cameras to carry out the explorations. These machines – designed on-site by engineers from Stanford University – entered very small areas and discovered cavities in the Chavin labyrinths, where pottery was preserved.

Chavin de Huantar was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. So far 35 interconnected underground passageways have been found at the site, Peru’s culture ministry said.

Possible Traces of Calming Drug Found in Sacrificed Inca Children

Possible Traces of Calming Drug Found in Sacrificed Inca Children

Two Inca children slated for ritual sacrifice more than 500 years ago quaffed a special soothing concoction that has gone undetected until now. Those young victims, most likely a girl and a boy roughly 4 to 8 years old, drank a liquid that may have lightened their moods and calmed their nerves in the days or weeks before they were ceremonially killed and buried on Peru’s Ampato mountain, a new study suggests.

Possible Traces of Calming Drug Found in Sacrificed Inca Children
Previously excavated bodies of two ritually sacrificed Inca children, including this girl still wearing a ceremonial headdress, have yielded chemical clues to a beverage that may have been used to calm them in the days or weeks before being killed.

The youngsters’ bodies contained chemical remnants from one of the primary ingredients of ayahuasca, a liquid concoction known for its hallucinogenic effects, say bioarchaeologist Dagmara Socha of the University of Warsaw, Poland, and her colleagues (SN: 5/6/19). Analyses focused on hair from the girl’s naturally mummified body and fingernails from the boy’s partially mummified remains.

While no molecular signs of ayahuasca’s strong hallucinogens appeared in those remains, the team did find traces of harmine and harmaline, chemical products of Banisteriopsis caapi vines, Socha’s group reports in the June Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. In ayahuasca, B. caapi amplifies the strength of other more hallucinogenic ingredients.

Recent investigations with rodents suggest that solutions containing harmine affect the brain much as some antidepressant drugs do. “This is the first [evidence] that B. caapi could have been used in the past for its antidepressant properties,” Socha says.

While research on whether harmine can lessen depression or anxiety in people is in its infancy, archaeologist Christine VanPool of the University of Missouri, Columbia, thinks it’s possible that the ingredient was used on purpose.

Spanish documents written after the fall of the Inca empire say that alcohol was used to calm those about to be sacrificed, so other brews may have been used too, speculates VanPool, who was not part of Socha’s team.

“I tentatively say yes, the Inca understood that B. caapi reduced anxiety in sacrificial victims,” she says.

Spanish chroniclers may have mistakenly assumed that Inca sacrifice victims drank a popular corn beer known as chicha rather than a B. caapi beverage, Socha suspects.

No evidence of alcohol appeared in molecular analyses of the Ampato mountain children. But alcohol consumed just before being sacrificed would have gone undetected in the researchers’ tests.

Trace evidence did also indicate that both children had chewed coca leaves in the weeks leading up to their deaths.

Spanish written accounts described the widespread use of coca leaves during Inca rites of passage. Those events included ritual sacrifices of children and young women, who were believed to become envoys to various local gods after death.

The grave of an Inca boy who was ritually sacrificed in the Andes more than 500 years ago included valuable items, such as this silver llama figurine, signifying his status as an envoy to local deities.

The sacrificed children were found during a 1995 expedition near the summit of Ampato (SN: 11/11/95). It would have taken at least two weeks and possibly several months for the pair of Inca children to complete a pilgrimage from wherever their homes were located to the capital city of Cuzco for official ceremonies and then to Ampato mountain, Socha says.

Giving those kids a calming B. caapi drink as well as coca leaves to chew doesn’t surprise archaeologist Lidio Valdez of the University of Calgary, who did not participate in the new study.

Children may not have understood that they were going to die, but they had to endure the rigors and loneliness of a long trip while separated from their families, he says.  

Valdez suspects Ampato mountain was originally called Qampato, a word meaning toad in the Inca language. Andean societies such as the Inca associated toads with water or rain. “The mountain was also likely linked with water or rain and the children perhaps sacrificed to ask the mountain gods to send water,” he says.

Meet The Inca Ice Maiden, Perhaps The Best-Preserved Mummy In Human History

Meet The Inca Ice Maiden, Perhaps The Best-Preserved Mummy In Human History

The must-see attraction for visitors to Museo Santuarios Andinos (Museum of Andean Sanctuaries) in Arequipa, Peru is without a doubt the Mummy Juanita, one of the world’s best-preserved corpses.

Her full head of dark hair is still intact and the skin on her hands and arms, discolouration aside, shows almost no decay. The mummy’s discoverer, Johan Reinhard, even made note of just how perfectly the mummy’s skin had been preserved, “down to visible hairs.”

As peaceful as she looks — a far cry from some of the more ghastly mummies that researchers have discovered — Juanita’s life was a short one that ended with her being sacrificed to the Inca gods.

Meet The Inca Ice Maiden, Perhaps The Best-Preserved Mummy In Human History
Mummy Juanita is on display at the Museum of the Nation in Lima, Peru. March 1999.

Scientists estimate that Juanita was between 12 and 15 years old when she died as part of capacocha, a sacrificial rite among the Inca that involved the deaths of children.

Translated as “royal obligation,” capacocha was the Inca’s attempt at ensuring that the best and healthiest among them were sacrificed to appease the gods, often as a way to stop a natural disaster or ensure a healthy harvest. Considering that Juanita’s body was discovered atop Ampato, a volcano in the Andes, her sacrifice very likely played into the Inca’s mountain worship.

Preparation For Death

Juanita’s life prior to her selection for human sacrifice probably wasn’t all that unusual. Her days leading up to her death, however, were very different from the lifestyle of a typical Inca girl. Scientists were able to use DNA from Juanita’s well-preserved hair to create a timeline of those days and deduce what her diet was like before capacocha.

Markers in her hair indicate that she was selected for sacrifice about a year before her actual death and switched from a standard Inca diet of potatoes and vegetables to the more elite foods of animal protein and maze, along with large quantities of coca and alcohol.

As Andrew Wilson, a forensic and archaeological expert, explained to National Geographic, the final six to eight weeks of life of Inca child sacrifices were one of a very intoxicated psychological state altered by the chemical reaction of coca and chicha alcohol.

Thus archaeologists believe that upon Juanita’s death, she was likely in a very docile and relaxed state. While the Incas would eventually perfect this drug mixture — which, coupled with the mountainous high altitudes, would cause the child sacrifices to fall into a permanent sleep — Juanita wasn’t so lucky.

Momia Juanita

Radiologist Elliot Fishman would discover that Juanita’s death was brought about by a massive haemorrhage from a club blow to the head. Fishman concluded that her injuries were “typical of someone who has been hit by a baseball bat.” After the death blow, her skull swelled with blood, pushing her brain to the side. Had blunt trauma to the head not occurred, her brain would have dried symmetrically in the centre of her skull.

Juanita’s Discovery

After her death, sometime between 1450 and 1480, Juanita would sit alone in the mountains until she was uncovered in September 1995 by anthropologist Johan Reinhard and his Peruvian climbing partner, Miguel Zárate.

If it weren’t for volcanic activity, it’s possible that the mummified young girl would have continued to sit on the frozen mountain top for centuries to come. But because of the volcanic activity warming the snow though, Mt. Ampato’s snowcap began to melt, pushing the wrapped mummy and her burial site down the mountain.

Reinhard and Zárate discovered the small bundled mummy inside a crater on the mountain, along with numerous burial items including pottery, shells, and small figurines.

The thin, cold air 20,000-feet up near the summit of Mt. Ampato had left the mummy incredibly intact. “The doctors have been shaking their heads and saying [the mummies] sure don’t look 500 years old [but] could have died a few weeks ago,” Reinhard recalled in a 1999 interview.

The discovery of such a well-preserved mummy instantly created a surge of interest throughout the scientific community. Reinhard would return to the mountain top a month later with a full team and find two more mummified children, this time a boy and a girl.

Reports from a Spanish soldier who witnessed sacrifices of children in pairs suggest that the boy and girl might have been buried as “companion sacrifices” for Mummy Juanita.

All in all, experts estimate that there may be hundreds of Inca children mummified in the mountain peaks of the Andes still waiting to be discovered.

Caral: The Oldest Civilization in the Americas

Caral: The Oldest Civilization in the Americas

Caral (also referred to as Caral-Supe) is a stunning ancient city located in the Supe Valley of Peru. Today travellers can visit the Caral Ruins, which are believed to be the remains of one of the oldest cities in the Americas.

Caral: The Oldest Civilization in the Americas
Caral is the oldest civilization in the Americas.

Rewind time and the city of Caral was once a thriving metropolis for its local residents around the same time that the Egyptian pyramids were being built! Interestingly, Caral remains relatively unknown on an international level.

The ancient city of Caral

Caral: A brief history

The Caral Ruins have located about 200 km (125 miles) north of Lima in Peru. Paul Kosok, American history and government professor were one of the first to study Caral in 1948. At the time, his findings were largely ignored due to the fact that he didn’t find any typical and sought after Andean artefacts on site. Peruvian anthropologist and archaeologist, Ruth Shady, later took over the exploration of this desert city of pyramids.

The evidence collected suggests that Caral was inhabited some 5,000 years ago, between 2600 and 2000 BCE (Before the Common Era, or Before Christ). For comparative purposes, the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt was built around 2600 BCE. 

The remains of Caral are well preserved

Excavators described Caral as the oldest American urban centre, but this claim to fame was later challenged when older ancient sites were found close by. Caral is however the largest known ancient city in the Andean region. Researchers believe that the city may have been an urban design model that was later adopted by various Andean civilizations over the course of the next millennia. In this respect, the discovery of Caral answers questions about the development of other early cities built after Caral and the origins of civilization in the Andes.

The size of Caral – think BIG

Caral is approximately 60 hectares in size and was home to 3,000 inhabitants. This makes Caral one of the biggest Norte Chico sites: the Norte Chico civilization was a complex pre-Colombian society encompassing over 30 population centres in what is now known as the Norte Chico region of the north-central Peruvian coast.

Caral is only one of a total of 19 settlements found in the Supe Valley. The remains of the Caral urban complex spreads out more than 150 acres (607,000 ms) and include residential buildings, temples and plazas. The most stunning findings at Caral include the Main Pyramid, the Amphitheater Pyramid, and the residential Quarters of the Elite. The main pyramid at Caral is 60 ft (18 m) tall and almost as large as 4 football fields! Ruth Shady believes that Caral was the main focus of the civilization living in the Supe Valley.

Stairs leading up to a temple excavated at Caral

What sets Caral apart?

What sets Caral apart is not just its size, but also its age. Carbon dating of various organic materials found throughout the site indicates that the pyramids are approximately 5,000 years old!

These visitors admire the beautiful amphitheatre at Caral

Interestingly, the people that lived in Caral were dedicated to buildings with civic intensity, and dedication to construction improvements and additions, and the city saw periods of great change. They were always making and remaking the stone-and-mortar walls, plazas, and residences; building new floors; painting and repainting surfaces; breaking down walls, and making new ones. They were truly one of the first civilizations that we’re focused on making home improvements.

The artefacts: Love, not war

No weapons, battlements or mutilated bodies were found during the Caral excavations. This crucial evidence lead anthropologist Ruth Shady’s research to suggest that this was a peaceful society based on commerce and pleasure.

When excavating one of the pyramids, flutes made from pelican and condor bones were found along with cornetts made from llama and deer bones. The stunning remains of a child found wrapped and buried with a stone bead necklace were also discovered.

Another artefact found at Caral was a quipu. The quipu is a record-keeping system in which knots are tied on a rope. According to Gary Urton, a quipu was used in a binary manner, to record both phonological and logographic data. The Incas later used and perfected this system, providing further proof that the Caral civilization culture impacted the Inca Empire.

An Inca quipu that is on display in Lima’s Larco Museum

The fabled missing link

For many decades, archaeologists have searched for a missing link in archaeology or a “mother city”- a city that could answer questions about why and how humans became civilized. Researchers have long looked for the answer to this question in other parts of the world, such as in Egypt, China, India, and Mesopotamia (Iran). No one expected that the first signs of city life could be found in a Peruvian desert.

For many years historians believed that the fear of war was perhaps a primary motivator for people to build cities and form complex societies to protect themselves against threats. Caral however has no traces of warfare or weapons, yet the city became a thriving metropolis. This finding challenges modern ideas of the origins of cities as based on conflict.

A detailed map of Caral

Ruth Shady explained that Caral was home to a gentle society: “This great civilization was based on trade in cotton. Caral made the cotton for the nets, which were sold to the fishermen living near the coast. Caral became a booming trading centre and the trade spread.”

Caral was built on the basis of trade, not bloodshed. Warfare actually emerged way later in history. And this is what the finding of Caral as a “mother city” indicates: civilizations are not born in conflict – they are born in peace. It is time to re-think the emergence of civilization!

After almost 10 years of excavation, the great proportions of this grand site are now emerging in Caral, but much work remains to be done. When standing in the main plaza with pyramids surrounding you on every side, the power of a long-lost ancient city is felt. Discoveries made in the area continue to help answer the question: how and why did humans become civilized?

1,000 Years Ago, Patients Survived Brain Surgery, But They Had To Live With Huge Holes in Their Heads

1,000 Years Ago, Patients Survived Brain Surgery, But They Had To Live With Huge Holes in Their Heads

Healers in Peru carried out cranial surgery more than a thousand years ago to treat a host of conditions – often successfully. Without the benefits of a sterile operating theatre, state-of-the-art surgical instruments, anaesthetic and pain medication, the ancient people of the South American country undertook a surgical procedure that involves removing a section of the skull using a hand drill or a scraping tool – a practice called preparation. It was used to treat a variety of ailments, mainly head injuries but even, bizarrely, a broken heart.

Gruesome: Some 900 years ago, Peruvian healers used hand drills to make dozens of small holes in a patient’s skull

Excavating burial caves in the south-central Andean province of Andahuaylas in Peru, University of California bioarchaeologist Danielle Kurin and her research team unearthed the remains of 32 individuals that date back to the Late Intermediate Period (around AD 1000-1250).

Among them, 45 separate trepanation procedures were in evidence.

‘When you get a knock on the head that causes your brain to swell dangerously, or you have some kind of neurological, spiritual or psychosomatic illness, drilling a hole in the head becomes a reasonable thing to do,’ said Kurin, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at UC Santa Barbera and a specialist in forensic anthropology. According to Kurin, trepanations first appeared in the south-central Andean highlands during the Early Intermediate Period (circa AD 200-600), although the technique was not universally practised. Still, it was considered a viable medical procedure until the Spanish put a halt to the practice in the early 16th century. But Kurin, whose findings appear in the current issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, wanted to know how trepanation came to exist in the first place and looked to a failed empire to find some answers.

‘For about 400 years, from 600 to 1000 AD, the area where I work — the Andahuaylas — was living as a prosperous province within an enigmatic empire known as the Wari,’ she said.

‘For reasons still unknown, the empire suddenly collapsed.’ And the collapse of civilisation, she drily noted, brings a lot of problems.

‘But it is precisely during times of collapse that we see people’s resilience and moxie coming to the fore,’ Kurin continued.

‘In the same way that new types of bullet wounds from the Civil War resulted in the development of better glass eyes, the same way IED’s are propelling research in prosthetics in the military today, so, too, did these people in Peru employ trepanation to cope with new challenges like violence, disease and depravation 1,000 years ago.’

A Peruvian actress impersonates an ancient female warrior in this file picture. Trepanning was common in the mysterious Wari culture

Kurin’s research shows various cutting practices and techniques being employed by practitioners around the same time. Some used scraping, others used cutting and still, others made use of a hand drill. It looks like they were trying different techniques, the same way we might try new medical procedures today,’ she said. They’re experimenting with different ways of cutting into the skull. Sometimes they were successful and the patient recovered, and sometimes things didn’t go so well. We can tell a trepanation is healed because we see these finger-like projections of bone that are growing,’ Kurin explained.

‘We have several cases where someone suffered a head fracture and was treated with the surgery; in many cases, both the original wound and the trepanation healed.’

It could take several years for the bone to regrow, and in a subset of those, a trepanation hole in the patient’s head might remain for the rest of his life, thereby conferring upon him a new ‘survivor’ identity. When a patient didn’t survive, his skull (almost never hers, as the practice of trepanation on women and children was forbidden in this region) might have been donated to science, so to speak, and used for education purposes.

‘The idea with this surgery is to go all the way through the bone, but not touch the brain,’ said Kurin. ‘That takes incredible skill and practice.

‘As bioarchaeologists, we can tell that they’re experimenting on recently dead bodies because we can measure the location and depths of the holes they’re drilling,’ she continued.

‘In one example, each hole is drilled a little deeper than the last. So you can imagine a guy in his prehistoric Peruvian medical school practising with his hand drill to know how many times he needs to turn it to nimbly and accurately penetrate the thickness of a skull.’

Some might consider drilling a hole in someone’s head a form of torture, but Kurin doesn’t perceive it as such.

‘We can see where the trepanations are. We can see that they’re shaving the hair. We see the black smudge of a herbal remedy they put over the wound,’ she noted.

‘To me, those are signs that the intention was to save the life of the sick or injured individual.’

But thanks to Kurin’s careful archaeological excavation of intact tombs and methodical analysis of the human skeletons and mummies buried therein, she knows exactly where, when and how the remains she found were buried, as well as who and what was buried with them. She used radiocarbon dating and insect casings to determine how long the bodies were left out before they skeletonised or were mummified, and multi-isotopic testing to reconstruct what they ate and where they were born.

‘That gives us a lot more information,” she said.

‘These ancient people can’t speak to us directly, but they do give us information that allows us to reconstruct some aspect of their lives and their deaths and even what happened after they died,’ she continued.

‘Importantly, we shouldn’t look at a state of collapse as the beginning of a “dark age”, but rather view it as an era that breeds resilience and foments stunning innovation within the population.’

The 1,000-year-old surgical kit found in Sican tomb, Peru

The 1,000-year-old surgical kit found in Sican tomb, Peru

The remains of an individual who served as a surgeon during the Middle Sican period (900-1050 AD) were found by experts from the Sican National Museum in the southern necropolis at the Mausoleum Temple of Huaca Las Ventanas, located in the Pomac Forest Historical Sanctuary in the province of Ferreñafe, Lambayeque region.

The funerary bundle No. 77 featured an individual who served as a surgeon. This is the first discovery of this type in the country’s northern region.

Sican National Museum Director Carlos Elera reported that this discovery was made as part of archaeological investigations initiated between 2010 and 2011 in the southern necropolis at Huaca Las Ventanas.

Instrumental recovered from the tomb

“This was a research project carried out by the Museum between 2010 and 2011; the context and part of it, which was covered with soil and sand, were partially removed, and we decided to bring it in a box because the river (La Leche River) was going to destroy part of this Huaca,” Elera told Andina news agency.

“So, taking advantage of the fact that there was a donation from the National Geographic Fund last year, we decided to excavate what had been documented at the funerary bundle of the external middle part,” he added.

The investigation was restarted in October 2021 and ended in January this year at the Sican Museum. 

“This individual is of Middle Sican cultural affiliation.

The funerary bundle included a golden mask pigmented with cinnabar, as well as a breastplate and a kind of poncho with copper plates and a gold hair remover,” he explained.

According to the museum’s director, there was a bottle —with two spouts and a bridge handle featuring a figure representing the Huaco Rey (King Huaco)— under the poncho.

“The bundle also included gilt copper bowls and a tumi (a ceremonial knife) (…). The most interesting thing was the set of awls, needles, and knives, several of which with a cutting edge on one side and a blunt edge on the other side; the sizes vary and some have wooden handles,” he added.