A massive tomb containing 80 individuals of differing ages has just been discovered at Pachacamac, which is located on the Pacific coast about 30 km from Lima.
Pachacamac is one of the largest Prehispanic sites in South America. The newly discovered tomb there is estimated to be 1000 years old.
The discovery was made as part of the ‘Ychsma Project’ to excavate a series of Incan storage facilities dated to the 15th to 16th centuries, as well as a more ancient cemetery that had been detected there.
Directly in front of a large temple the archaeologists discovered the massive 20-meter-long burial chamber, which had somehow been missed throughout the centuries of pillaging and was completely intact.
The tomb is oval, excavated into the ground, and roofed with reeds supported by tree trunks. A dozen newborns were placed around the perimeter with their heads oriented towards the tomb. The main chamber was separated into two separate sections divided by a mud brick wall.
Inside of the chambers were the remains of over 70 skeletons and mummies. The mummies were of all different ages and sexes. They were accompanied by ceramic vessels, dogs, guinea pigs, copper, gold, masks, painted wood, calabashes, and more. There were lots of babies and very young infants among the skeletons.
One of the researchers suggested that there might be some genetic relation between the mummies present because of similar morphological characteristics in the skeletons. Many of the individuals showed signs of mortal wounds, physical trauma, and serious disease.
Previous work at the site has found an extensive presence of disease in the skeletons there, suggesting that the area was perhaps a pilgrimage site for those looking for a ‘cure’.
The researchers are carrying out further research on the mummies to answer the questions that have arisen. Were the infants surrounding the tomb sacrificed? Was the tomb filled all at once or over time? Were the individuals native to the area or did they travel longer distances? Were they related? How did they die?