Big Peru Find: Royal Tomb That Hasn't Been Looted

63 bodies, vast trove of artifacts inside
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2013 6:50 AM CDT
Big Peru Find: Royal Tomb That Hasn't Been Looted
Remains of those interred in a mausoleum at El Castillo funerary complex lay exactly where Wari attendants left them some 1,200 years ago, in Huarmey, Peru.   (AP Photo/National Geographic Society, Milosz Giersz,)

South America's first empire was the work of the Wari people, who built it between 700 and 1,000 AD. And archeologists have just brought us closer to their world: For the first time, researchers have discovered a Wari royal tomb that hasn't been looted, National Geographic reports. The "temple of the dead," discovered by Polish and Peruvian researchers, was packed with precious artifacts ranging from jewelry to weapons to tools.

Some 63 people were buried inside—including three queens. "We don't see female high-status rulers in the art of the Wari very often," an archeologist tells USA Today. While many bodies belonged to women and were sitting upright, there were also some likely human sacrifices. "They were people thrown into the grave before the grave was sealed," says an expert. "They were lying on their bellies, in an extended position, and their limbs went in different directions." Fearing looters could still come to claim prizes, Milosz Giersz's team kept their discovery long secret; they began digging last September at El Castillo de Huarmey, a pyramid site some 185 miles north of Lima, Reuters reports. (Read more Peru stories.)

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