Archaeologists are reported to have found a mummy that is at least 800 years old in Peru at an excavation site near the regional capital of Lima.
Researchers from the National University of San Marcos found the preserved body in the center of the town square at the archaeological site of Cajamarquilla, about 25 kilometres inland from Lima.
The mummy was found tied with ropes and hands covering his face, which researchers say is a burial custom in southern Peru.
Then researchers estimated this mummy to be from 800 to 1,200 years old.
The period refers to pre-Hispanic times before the Inca civilization founded the famous fortress of Machu Picchu in the 15th century.
“The discovery of this resident sheds a new light on interactions and relationships in pre-Hispanic times,” said Pieter Van Dalen Luna, one of the archaeologists who led the excavation.
Van Dalen Luna said the mummy looked like a young man aged 25 to 30 who came from the mountains to Cajamarquilla, a bustling commercial center in the pre-Columbian era.
According to CNN, excavations began in mid-October with a 40-member team led by Van Dalen Luna and partner Yomira Huamán Santillán. The discovery of this mummy surprised the excavation team because they weren’t actually looking for a mummy.
“The whole team was really happy because we didn’t think this was going to happen. We didn’t expect to make such an important discovery,” Huaman said.
Another unexpected find was several marine mollusks outside the mummified tomb, which Van Dalen Luna said was unusual considering Cajamarquilla is about 25 kilometers from the coast.
“After the body is placed in the tomb, there are constant events and activities,” said Van Dalen Luna.
“That is to say, their descendants keep coming back over many years and placing food and offerings there, including molluscs,” he added.
Later some llama bones were also found on the outside of the tomb. Van Dalen Luna said people commonly ate llama bones at that time, and pieces of llama meat would be offered to those who had died.
The circumstances of the discovery led the researchers to conclude that this was not an ordinary citizen but an important person in contemporary society.
“The fact of finding a mummy with these characteristics in the middle of the plaza makes it clear that this is someone of high status,” said Van Dalen Luna, adding that among other options, the person in question could be a prominent merchant.
The research team will now carry out further analyses, including carbon dating, which will allow them to narrow down the time period in which the person lived and seek more details about the mummy’s identity.
Several mummies have previously been found in Peru and neighboring Chile, more than 1,000 years old.