Archaeologists have discovered a 1,000-year-old mummy in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru. Perhaps the most striking feature of the new find is its hair: The mummy has long brown locks that have been incredibly well-preserved.
According to Mirella Ganoza, who led the team of archaeologists, the mummy belonged to the Ychsma culture. This group lived on the central coast of present-day Peru before the Inca Empire came to power.
“This discovery helps to complement the information we know about the Ychsma culture so far,” says Ganoza to Reuters’ Anthony Marina.
Researchers don’t yet know the gender of the mummy, which dates to around 1000 C.E. They also haven’t revealed extensive details about the distinctive hairstyle. As Ganoza tells Roberto Ochoa of La República, a Peruvian newspaper, “What looks like a braid could be a cord that held up their hairstyle.”
Several factors differentiate the newly unearthed mummy from other burials found at the site, as archaeologist Frank Baquerizo, who discovered this mummy with Ganoza, tells La República. For instance, it was located beside two ceramic vessels and a cloth wrapped around several metal objects. The body was also positioned with its legs bent and its feet crossed, a position characteristic of Ychsma burials.
The mummy was buried underneath an adobe and clay pyramid called the Huaca Pucllana. Like many other sites in Peru, the structure held ritualistic significance that spanned several historical eras before the arrival of the Spanish.
Archaeologists think that members of a civilization known as the Lima culture built the pyramid around 500 C.E. This group inhabited the site through roughly 700 C.E., followed by the Wari culture. Finally, around 1000 C.E., the Ychsma culture may have used the site as a cemetery. Both Wari and Ychsma burials have been found there.
“I find it quite interesting that right in the heart of Miraflores, in the middle of the city, surrounded by modern buildings and constructions, an important site is still preserved, the Huaca Pucllana ceremonial center,” Ganoza tells Reuters.
Lima is full of rich archaeological sites; several other mummies have been found in and around the city this year. Just a few months ago, for example, archaeologists discovered a 3,000-year-old mummy in Lima, reported Reuters’ Enrique Mandujano, Anthony Marina and Alfredo Galarza. This mummy, however, was likely from the Manchay culture, which populated the area between 1500 and 1000 B.C.E.
Despite Lima’s rich history, Peru is best known for Machu Picchu, which is also the country’s biggest tourist attraction. Earlier this year, the Inca city closed for about a month due to civil unrest in the country, though it has since reopened to visitors. Built in the mid-15th century, the site continues to yield exciting discoveries.