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Trove of 900-year-old mummies — buried with ancient treasures — unearthed in Peru

More than 900 years ago, 22 people were wrapped in fabric and buried in Peru. Now, archaeologists have discovered their mummies — and the treasures they took with them to the grave.

Researchers from Poland and Peru were exploring an archaeological site on the Cerro Colorado hill, on the outskirts of Barranca, when they found the mummies, according to a Dec. 6 post from Science in Poland, a subset of the national news agency. The area includes ancient pre-Columbia buildings covered by mounds.

At the site, experts found 22 intact burial bundles — six adults and 16 children under the age of 2 — Łukasz Majchrzak, an archaeologists involved in the project, told the outlet. The mummies were wrapped in fabric and plant material. Between the layers of fabric were artifacts, including pottery, ceramics and tools.

Archaeologists estimate that the bundles date to approximately 900 years ago.
Archaeologists estimate that the bundles date to approximately 900 years ago.

The burials date to approximately between 1000 and 1100, scientists said. Further testing will be done to confirm their ages.

Majchrzak said high child mortality was not unusual in ancient times, so archaeologists are not surprised by the abundance of child burials. However, the differences in burial style between adult and child mummies stood out to experts.

Although the burials were at similar depths in the ground, adult bodies were in a vertical fetal position, with their limbs tucked into their chests, while child bodies were arranged horizontally, according to Majchrzak. The children were buried away from the adults.

Experts said the mummies were buried with items they would need in the afterlife, including pottery, tools and food.
Experts said the mummies were buried with items they would need in the afterlife, including pottery, tools and food.

Experts have begun examining some of the bundles — one belonging to a newborn and one belonging to an approximately 15-year-old girl — Majchrzak said. The bodies were intentionally mummified.

Experts said the burial bundles were meant to be useful to the dead in the afterlife, and in some bundles, archaeologists found corn cobs and other plant materials.

Barranca is on Peru’s western coast, about 120 miles north of Lima.

Google Translate was used to translate a post from Science in Poland.

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