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A Cemetery more than 1000 years old has been discovered at the great site of Pachacamac, on the Pacific coast of Peru, not far from Lima.
The deceased were packed in overlapping layers of webs of plant fiber and leaves. According to Professor Peter Eeckhout (Université libre de Bruxelles, ULB), director of the Ychsma Project in charge of the excavations, the mummies were sometimes buried in groups, in pits dug in the sand and then covered with a wooden structure and reeds. .
The cultural remains have been studied by archaeologists while the mummies have been by physical anthropologists led by the Dr. Lawrence Owens (Birkbeck, UCLondon; UNISA).
“Most of the people at the site had hard lives, with various fractures, damaged backs and deteriorated hips… but the individuals in this cemetery show a higher than normal concentration of tuberculosis, syphilis and severe bone fractures that could have an impact greater about their lives.
However, the fact that most were ill - who also survived a long time - suggests they were cared for. "The people of ancient times felt a duty to care for those less fortunate than themselves."
The team also used the CTScan to explore rare mummies, including one made from virtually only plant fibers. "This is different than what we are used to, and could represent an older tradition," he adds.
Unfortunately, explains the Peruvian archaeologist Milton Luján Davila, co-director of the Ychsma Project, “all the plant-wrapped mummies found this year have been more or less damaged by the construction of a large building just above the cemetery; This would be a sequel to the conquest of the site by the Incas, towards the end of the XV century”.
Interestingly, many skulls are missing, as if they had been removed, perhaps by reasons related to religious beliefs.
“The relationship with the ancestors was fundamental in the ancient Andes, concludes Professor Eeckhout, but in this case, the Incas who erected the building had no relationship of kinship or descent with these ancient mummies, which we have found perhaps by chance. They did not respect them and partially destroyed them during the construction process. It remains to be known what they did with the skulls, we are still looking for them ”, he concludes.
The Pachacamac site is included in the list of Unesco World Heritage. The Ychsma project It is funded by the ULB, the ULB Foundation and the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research. The excavations have been authorized by the Ministry of Culture of Peru.
Via: Peter Eeckhout / ULB
Image: Stock Photos by Wollertz on Shutterstock