Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Archaeology: Spectacular tomb containing more than 80 individuals discovered in Peru

Date:
May 22, 2012
Source:
Libre de Bruxelles, Université
Summary:
Archaeologists have discovered a spectacular tomb containing more than eighty individuals of different ages. This discovery – provisionally dated to around 1000 years ago – was made at the site of Pachacamac.

Excavating the tomb.
Credit: Image courtesy of Libre de Bruxelles, Université

A team of archaeologists from the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) has discovered a spectacular tomb containing more than eighty individuals of different ages. This discovery -- provisionally dated to around 1000 years ago -- was made at the site of Pachacamac, which is currently under review for UNESCO World Heritage status.

Pachacamac, situated on the Pacific coast about thirty kilometres from Lima, is one of the largest Prehispanic sites in South America. Professor Peter Eeckhout -- under the auspices of the ULB -- has been carrying out fieldwork at the site for the past 20 years. The 2012 season resulted in some particularly remarkable discoveries.

The Ychsma Project team undertook to record and excavate a series of Inca storage facilities (15th-16th c. AD), as well as a more ancient cemetery which had been detected during exploratory work in 2004.

It was here -- directly in front of the Temple of Pachacamac -- that the most important discovery was made. A scatter of later period burials was found to conceal an enormous burial chamber 20 metres long ; miraculously, it had survived the pillaging of the colonial period -- which was particularly intensive on this site -- and was completely intact.

The tomb is oval in outline, excavated into the earth and covered with a roof of reeds supported by carved and shaped tree trunks. A dozen newborn babies and infants were distributed around the perimeter, their heads oriented towards the tomb. The main chamber was seperated into two sections, separated by a wall of mud bricks which served as a base for yet more burials.

Inside the chambers, the archaeologists uncovered the remains of more than 70 skeletons and mummies (many of which still retained their wrappings), all in the characteristic fœtal position. The burials represented both sexes and all ages, and were often accompanied by offrenda including ceramic vessels, animals (dogs, guinea pigs), copper and gold alloy artefacts, masks (or 'false heads') in painted wood, calabashes, etc. These items are currently under restoration and analysis. Babies and very young infants were particularly common.

The team's group of physical anthropologists, under the direction of Dr Lawrence Owens (University of London), have posited the possibility of a genetic relationship between many of the individuals, on the basis of certain morphological traits recorded in the skeletons. Certain of the individuals suffered mortal injuries, physical trauma or serious illness.

Previous work by the Ychsma Project has revealed the extensive presence of disease in the Pachacamac skeletal population, leading to the suggestion that the affected individuals had, as testified by Inca sources, travelled to the site in search of a cure: a form of Prehispanic Lourdes.

Professor Eeckhout and his colleagues are currently carrying out laboratory analyses aimed at answering numerous questions that have arisen concerning this discovery, and how to contextualise it within the wider context of the site and the period(s) in question. Were the infants sacrificed ? Were the bodies all interred at the same time as a form of communal burial, or was the chamber reused over longer periods of time like some sort of crypt? Did the individuals come from Pachacamac or further afield? Did they belong to the same family or larger kinship group ? What was their cause of death…?

The artefacts found in the tomb date it stylistically to around 1000 AD, although this is yet to be confirmed radiometrically. The importance of the site cannot be overstated: Pachacamac is a candidate for inclusion on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Ychsma Project benefits from the support of the ULB's Centre for Archaeological and Heritage Research, the ULB Foundation, and from the National Fund for Scientific Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Libre de Bruxelles, Université. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Libre de Bruxelles, Université. "Archaeology: Spectacular tomb containing more than 80 individuals discovered in Peru." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522114643.htm>.
Libre de Bruxelles, Université. (2012, May 22). Archaeology: Spectacular tomb containing more than 80 individuals discovered in Peru. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522114643.htm
Libre de Bruxelles, Université. "Archaeology: Spectacular tomb containing more than 80 individuals discovered in Peru." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522114643.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) — A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard. The 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Where Did The World Trade Center Shipwreck Come From?

Where Did The World Trade Center Shipwreck Come From?

Newsy (July 31, 2014) — Scientists say a ship remnant discovered underneath Ground Zero dates back to the 18th century. Why it sank is still uncertain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) — Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for £650 Mln

London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for £650 Mln

AFP (July 29, 2014) — London's "Gherkin" office tower, one of the landmarks on the British capital's skyline, went on sale for about £650 million ($1.1 billion, 820 million euros) on Tuesday after being placed into receivership. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins