September 21, 2009--
A gilded mask, found affixed to the front of a coffin, was among the treasures recently uncovered at San Jose de Moro, a site in Peru
that once served as a cemetery for the pre-Inca Moche society, archaeologists announced this week.
The wooden coffin was unearthed earlier this year in the second room of a unique double-chambered tomb, which dates back to A.D. 850. Inside the coffin, the excavation team found a skeleton of a rattle-wielding elite male, a rare discovery at a site famous as the resting place for several powerful priestesses.
"After 18 years of excavation in San Jose de Moro, we were expecting another female," said lead archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, of the Catholic University of Peru
in Lima. "But this tends to happen [in archaeology]: Expect the unexpected."
The excavation, funded in part by the National Geographic Society, may help solve the puzzle of why so many Moche elite burials found so far have been female, even though both men and women rulers are represented in Moche artwork, Castillo said. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
Read the full story >>
Photograph courtesy Luis Jaime Castillo Butters