Last weekend, a team led by archaeologists from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM) discovered a mummy with unpublished characteristics in the archaeological complex of Cajamarquilla located in the district of Lurigancho, near Huachipa (East Lima).
The group was conducting excavations in one of the southern sectors of the complex built more than 1,400 years ago, when they came across the first clues of this find.
In the middle of a square, there were steps leading down. As the excavation continued at that site, they identified a hole, which turned out to be the access to a burial chamber.
“There was a mummified individual, in a sitting position, with your hands on your face and tied with a rope”, Dr. Pieter Van Dalen Luna, a professor in the Department of Archeology of the UNMSM, described to La República.
Van Dalen and the archaeologist Yomira Huamán (also from UNMSM) lead the research project in this area of the complex, where at the same time they direct a “field school”, in which students from the San Marcos, San Antonio Abad de Cusco and San Cristóbal de Huamanga (Ayacucho) take their first steps in the profession.
Van Dalen points out that, after a “first look at the field,” the mummy would be a male from the mountains.
The estimation of its region of origin is due to its sitting position and being tied down, “a burial process that is not typical of the coast. It is more of the high Andean region ”, he explains.
The researchers indicate that, according to the material that has been found in their environment, this person would have lived in the Wari era (600 AD-1300) or a culture of the Late Intermediate.
To find out exactly its origin, the team has taken samples from inside the tomb and plans to transfer them to the laboratories of the University of Krakow (Poland), for analysis by means of the Carbon-14 a radioactive isotope that allows the age of materials to be determined.
“This will allow us to know what period it belongs to and the exact year in which the individual was buried,” says the professor.
Although Cajamarquilla has been explored by dozens of researchers, including the anthropologist Julio C. Tello, the finding of a mummy with these characteristics has never been reported.
“It is a unique find on this site,” says Van Dalen Luna.
The fact that this person had a burial typical of the mountains in a coastal settlement supports the hypothesis developed by Yomira Huamán that Cajamarquilla, due to its location in the Huaycoloro ravine, was a point where the inhabitants of both natural regions met. constantly to conduct business transactions.
Despite the notorious historical importance of Cajamarquilla, this archaeological site is usually invaded by people of poor living, who would not have hesitated to extract this mummy if they found it first.
Although the Ministry of Culture has appointed people to take care of the site, vigilance is not enough to prevent so much desecration, Van Dalen laments.
Despite these difficulties, the perseverance and dedication of his team stands out.
“With the limited budget, delivered by a small local businessman (Basilio Huamán and his wife), we have achieved significant discoveries that will change the pre-Hispanic history of Lima. And there are still weeks of excavation that will surely reveal other important and transcendental finds for Peruvian archeology ”, he concluded.