Uploaded on Aug 22, 2009
Esta es la Señora de Cao, gracias al apoyo de la Fundacion Wiese, se ha hecho posible este gran hallazgo. Visitemosla... Peru un pais de Maravillas.
THE SEÑORA DE CAO
The best-preserved mummy ever known from the ancient Moche culture, parts of it covered with tattoos, has been discovered by Peruvian archaeologists, leaded by archaeologist Regulo Franco from de Wiese Foundation, at a ceremonial site called El Brujo — the Wizard — on the north coast of Peru, in Trujillo. The mummy is dated to around A.D. 400.
Reported in the June issue of National Geographic magazine, the elaborately wrapped mummy is a woman who died in her 20s. The woman, buried with a teen-aged girl as a sacrifice, is believed to have been a member of the Moche elite — possibly a ruler. Objects buried with her, including two ceremonial war clubs and 23 spear throwers, have left archaeologists puzzled: Such symbolic items previously have only been found in the graves of Moche men.
Archaeologists first spotted the war clubs in X-rays made before the enormous mummy bundle was unwrapped. I could see from the X-ray a bit of the pelvis — it clearly was a female, said physical anthropologist John Verano of Tulane University, who has been working at Perus El Brujo Archaeological Project, invited by the Wiese Foundation .
The Moche culture thrived from A.D. 1 to A.D. 800 in the coastal river valleys of northern Peru. The Moche excelled at art, creating splendid ceramics and elaborate objects of gold and other metals. They also constructed huge pyramids; the Moche Pyramid of the Sun is the largest adobe pyramid in the New World.
The young woman lay near the summit of a ruined pyramid called Huaca Cao Viejo, a Pacific Ocean site known since the Spanish conquest but abandoned for centuries until recent excavations. A covered patio where her grave lay was a sacred space, where fellow Moche would honor her with burned offerings and by pouring libations into a vessel set above her tomb. The main tomb was discovered last year and excavated by the El Brujo Project managed and funding for the last 15 years by the Wiese Foundation with the co-direction of the Perus National Institute of Culture.
Wrapped in hundreds of yards of cotton cloth, the mummy bundle was unusual. The bundle was decorated with a large embroidered face, something never before seen in a Moche burial. The bundle was covered by a cane mat, possibly the one she slept on in life, and a pillow lay underneath.
To remove the bundle for study, archaeologists first had to take out a skeleton lying alongside it. It was a well-preserved sacrifice, with a rope still around its neck — the girl had been strangled, Verano said. Such sacrifices were common throughout Andean cultures, he said, some of them people who volunteered to accompany a loved one to the afterlife.
It took eight men to lift the mummy bundle from its grave and take it to the nearby lab, where it was photographed, cleaned and studied. Careful unwrapping and documentation, by a team led by textile specialist Arabel Fernandez, from de Wiese Foundation , took months.
When the body was finally exposed, the archaeologists found that the skin was largely intact. The body had mummified quickly, partly because the young woman had been placed in a rain-sheltered patio. Complex tattoos, distinct from others of the Moche, covered both arms and other areas.
The womans abdominal skin was wrinkled and collapsed, and bone scarring indicated the woman had given birth at least once. Some Moche people reached their 60s and 70s.
Along with headdresses and numerous items of jewelry was a contradictory mix of objects: War clubs and spear throwers, traditionally used by Moche males, as well as traditional female items — gold sewing needles, weaving tools and raw cotton.
In the thousands of Moche tombs previously exposed, no female warrior has been identified.
Moche art tells bloody tales of what once took place at Huaca Cao Viejo, a grand cathedral of the Moche era. Their prisoners were brought into the pyramids ceremonial plaza naked, bleeding and bound with nooses. Once inside, they witnessed a Moche priest adorned in gold slit their throats one by one. Those in line who didnt turn away or faint saw a priestess catch the blood in a golden goblet for the priest to drink.
Huaca Cao also was the final resting place of some of the Moche elite. The woman was accompanied by five other burials — three adults and two teen-aged sacrifices. The bundles have been excavated and X-rayed and are to be unwrapped over the next few months. The archaeologists hope to extract mitochondrial DNA from them to determine if they were related and to do isotopic work to track the elite womans lineage and life history.
PERU, a wonderful country.
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