A mummy has recently been discovered by archeologists in Peru, estimated to be 800-1,200 years old, and was unearthed in Cajamarquilla, near the capital city of Lima. National University of San Marcos researchers unearthed the preserved rope-bound body on an archaeological site, underground in the middle of the town square, roughly 25 kilometers from Lima.
Mummification, according to LiveScience, is the process of preserving the dead and was a widespread practice in many ancient societies. The honored tradition imbued with deep religious significance in the ancient world was often performed by skilled specialists. It was done to venerate the dead and express the significance of religious belief, especially of an afterlife.
Although many cultures performed mummification of their dead during those times, the Ancient Egyptians’ most infamous to date. However, ancient Chinese people of the Canary Islands, many pre-Columbian societies, the Incas, and Guanches performed mummification.
In mummification, specialists preserved the bodies of the dead by drying or embalming the flesh. The moisture of the body is removed via chemicals or natural preservatives like resin. On the other hand, it can also be done unintentionally in a process known as natural mummification when deceased bodies are exposed to extreme conditions and other environmental factors that may mitigate against the body’s decay.
800-Year-Old Rope-bound Peruvian Mummy Unearthed
The 800-year-old mummy was discovered to be tied with ropes with its hands covering its face. Researchers explained that it is a southern Peruvian funeral custom. The mummy’s age places it back to pre-Hispanic times preceding even the Inca civilization known for establishing the well-known citadel of Peru–Machu Picchu in the 15th century, reports CNN.
Pieter Van Delan Luna, one of the leading archeologists of the excavation, says that the mummy’s discovery sheds new light on the relationships and interactions in pre-Hispanic times. He tells CNN that the mummy is likely to be a young man aged 25-30 years old who traveled to the mountains of Cahamarquilly, which was a bustling commercial center during the pre-Columbian era.
The team’s excavation work began in October with a team of 40 led by Luna and fellow archeologists Yomira Huaman Santillan. The discovery came as a surprise since the team did not set out in search of preserved mummies.
Likewise, the team stumbled upon another unexpected discovery where several marine mollusks were found outside the mummy’s tomb, which is unusual since the site is 25 kilometers from the nearest coast, reports IndiaToday.
Luna explains that after the body was laid to rest, evidence suggests that its descendants kept coming back throughout the years, placing offerings and food, including mollusks, around the tomb. The circumstances of the archeologist’s recent discovery led the team to conclude that the 800-year-old mummy may not have been an ordinary citizen, more likely being an important person in their contemporary society. Stating that the characteristics of the mummy and its burial imply that it is of high status.