A rare undisturbed tomb atop an ancient pyramid in Lima, Peru, has yielded four 1,150-year-old, well-bundled mummies of the Wari culture, archaeologists announced on October 20.
The mummies include what appear to be an elite woman and three children, who may have been sacrificed to accompany her into the afterlife, according to Isabel Flores Espinosa, excavation director at the Huaca Pucllana archaeological site.
The Wari civilization spread along the central coast of Peru beginning around A.D. 700. At Huaca Pucllana, they replaced the Lima culture before being replaced themselves by the ascendant Inca.
Wrapped in layers of fabric and vegetation, mummies of an apparently elite Wari woman and a likely child sacrifice are exposed in Lima's mud-brick Huaca Pucllana pyramid on October 20.
Though the mummy bundles' fake heads—made of cloth or carved from wood—appear well preserved, "the state of the bodies inside might be only bones or partially dried-out bodies," Espinosa said in an email translated from Spanish.
Excavation work continues at the pyramid at the center of the Huaca Pucllana archaeological site in the Peruvian capital. Prior to occupation by the Wari, the eight-story-tall monument was a ceremonial center for the Lima culture, for which the surrounding city is named.
In addition to the undisturbed tomb containing the mummies, archaeologists have discovered 61 other Wari mummy bundles at the site, though each had been subject to looting. The newfound, undisturbed crypt should allow a reconstruction of the entire Wari funerary complex believed to exist here, Espinosa said.