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Ancient Treasure filled tomb discovered in Peru

June 28, 2013
Images of winged, supernatural beings adorn a pair of heavy gold-and-silver ear ornaments that a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave in the newly discovered mausoleum at El Castillo de Huarmey in Peru. The Wari forged South America's earliest empire between 700 and 1000 A.D., and their Andean capital boasted a population greater than that of Paris at the time. Today, Peru's Minister of Culture will officially announce the discovery of the first unlooted Wari imperial tomb by a team of Polish and Peruvian researchers. In all, the archaeological team has found the remains of 63 individuals, including three Wari queens. Photograph by Daniel Giannoni.

Images of winged, supernatural beings adorn a pair of heavy gold-and-silver ear ornaments that a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave in the newly discovered mausoleum at El Castillo de Huarmey in Peru.
The Wari forged South America’s earliest empire between 700 and 1000 A.D., and their Andean capital boasted a population greater than that of Paris at the time. Today, Peru’s Minister of Culture will officially announce the discovery of the first unlooted Wari imperial tomb by a team of Polish and Peruvian researchers. In all, the archaeological team has found the remains of 63 individuals, including three Wari queens. Photograph by Daniel Giannoni.

National Geographic has news of an exciting find in Peru, an ancient pre-Inca, Wari tomb that is completely intact. In fact, it’s the first unlooted Wari tomb ever uncovered.  According to the article:

The Wari lords have long been overshadowed by the later Inca, whose achievements were extensively documented by their Spanish conquerors. But in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D., the Wari built an empire that spanned much of present-day Peru. Their Andean capital, Huari, became one of the world’s great cities. At its zenith, Huari boasted a population conservatively estimated at about 40,000 people. Paris, by comparison, had just 25,000 residents at the time.

As archaeologists dug in one side chamber, they unearthed the remains of a Wari queen and several regal offerings, including a brilliantly painted ceramic flask (right) and an alabaster drinking cup (left). Photograph by Patrycja Przadka Giersz.

As archaeologists dug in one side chamber, they unearthed the remains of a Wari queen and several regal offerings, including a brilliantly painted ceramic flask (right) and an alabaster drinking cup (left). Photograph by Patrycja Przadka Giersz.

The article includes this exciting account of what was found:

As the archaeologists carefully removed the fill, they discovered rows of human bodies buried in a seated position and wrapped in poorly preserved textiles. Nearby, in three small side chambers, were the remains of three Wari queens and many of their prized possessions, including weaving tools made of gold. “So what were these first ladies doing at the imperial court? They were weaving cloth with gold instruments,” says [Krzysztof] Makowski [Hanula, an archaeologist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima and the project’s scientific adviser].

Mourners had also interred many other treasures in the room: inlaid gold and silver ear-ornaments, silver bowls, bronze ritual axes, a rare alabaster drinking cup, knives, coca leaf containers, brilliantly painted ceramics from many parts of the Andean world, and other precious objects.  [Milosz] Giersz [an archaeologist at the University of Warsaw in Poland] and his colleagues had never seen anything like it before. “We are talking about the first unearthed royal imperial tomb,” says Giersz.

But for archaeologists, the greatest treasure will be the tomb’s wealth of new information on the Wari Empire. The construction of an imperial mausoleum at El Castillo shows that Wari lords conquered and politically controlled this part of the northern coast, and likely played a key role in the downfall of the northern Moche kingdom. Intriguingly, one vessel from the mausoleum depicts coastal warriors battling axe-wielding Wari invaders.

Peru_Wari_Map

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