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Amazingly untouched tomb of three Wari queens unearthed in Peru

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a major archaeological find sure to shine a light in a mysterious part of South American history, researchers in Peru have unearthed a royal tomb with treasures and mummified women from about 1,200 years ago. Uncovered in El Castillo de Huarmey, about 175 miles north of Lima, the site could shed new light on the Wari Empire, which ruled long before the rise of the better-known Inca civilization.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - More than 60 skeletons were found in the tomb, including three Wari queens buried with gold and silver jewelry along with brilliantly-painted ceramics. Many of the mummified bodies were found sitting upright, which indicates that they were royalty.
"We have found for the first time in Peruvian archaeological history, an imperial tomb of the Wari culture," co-director of the project Milosz Giersz says. "The contents of the chamber consisted of 63 human bodies, most of them women, wrapped in funerary bundles buried in the typical seated position, a native Wari pattern."

The queens may not have been laid to rest for good after they died. National Geographic reported that there were traces of insect pupae found in the queens' bodies, suggesting that their mummies may have been periodically put out on display, left exposed to the open air, to be venerated by the living Wari people.

Royalty was not the only remains found at the site. Forensic archaeologist Wieslaw Wieckowski says the way other bodies were positioned indicated human sacrifice.

"Six of the skeletons we found in the grave were not in the textiles. They were placed on the top of the other burials in very strange positions, so we believe that they were sacrifices," he said.

"The fact that most of the skeletons were of women and the very rich grave goods, leads us to the interpretation that this was a tomb of the royal elite and that also changes our point of view on the position of the women in the Wari culture."

There had been fears that grave robbers would find out and loot the site. In hauling away treasures, looters destroy archaeological context and information, leaving researchers grasping for answers about how ancient people lived.

The Wari civilization thrived from the Seventh to Tenth centuries, conquering all of what is now Peru before a mysterious and dramatic decline. The Wari people had their capital near the modern-day Ayacucho, in the Andes.

At a time when Paris had just 25,000 residents, the Wari capital Huari was home to 40,000 people at its height, according to National Geographic, which reported the find.

In spite of their breadth, the Wari have remained somewhat mysterious, and it is rare for archaeologists to find burials that have not been ravaged by grave robbers.

The archaeological team, led by both Polish and Peruvian researchers is hailing the recent find as the first unlooted Wari imperial tomb, sealed for centuries under 30 tons of loose stone fill.

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