Archaeologists working in the Atacama Desert came across an unlikely yet brilliant discovery – 150 mummies belonging to a previously unknown culture in the Tambo Delta of northern Peru.
Research has been conducted in the area since 2008 as part of the Tambo Project. Archaeologists found a grave dating back between the 4th and 7th century AD, making it a mysterious culture not yet analysed. The culture predates the expansion of the Tiwanaku civilisation into the area.
Due to the heat of the desert, the graves and artefacts have been well-preserved, and the sandy surface made it invisible to those greedy grave robbers. Inside the tombs, archaeologists found bodies wrapped in mats, some in cotton shrouds and others in nets. Another find included headgear made from lama wool.
A rare discovery were the bows and arrows with obsidian tips as bows are not often found in Peru. The skeleton of a young lama was also found, which proves that these animals were brought to the Tambo Delta much earlier than previously thought.
Other artefacts include jewellery, decorated weaving tools, and reed withes attached to the deceased ears which is believed to have been a way for the dead to communicate with the living.
Leader of the research project, Prof Józef Szykulski, says:
“These burials are of a virtually unknown people, who inhabited the area before the expansion of the Tiwanaku civilisation. Items found in individual graves indicate that the people already had a clear social division”