Archaeologists in Peru have discovered a 1,200 years old graveyard which could be holding thousands of mummies. Situated in the Cotahuasi Valley of Peru, the graveyard is probably a ceremonial site where, perhaps, religious ceremonies were also staged. 170 mummies have already been unearthed while many more still lie buried at the site now called Tenahaha.
The 171 mummies which have been excavated from this site were dug out when work was carried out here from 2004 to 2007.
The tombs are situated atop hillocks overlooking Tenaha leading archaeologist Justin Jennings, a curator at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, to write, “The dead, likely numbering in the low thousands, towered over the living.”
The mummies unearthed so far were seen to be curled up, with knees folded to touch their shoulders and arms folding over the chest. The corpses thus folded were then tied up with rope and wrapped in layers of clothing.
The age group of these mummies was seen to vary widely- from foetuses to older adults. Some of the youngest infants were even buried in jars. Though nothing can be confirmed yet, it is believed that those buried at this ancient site perhaps lived in villages close to Tenahaha.
Historians well versed with the region believe that this place might have been a site of refuge in ancient Peru when it was undergoing tumultuous changes from 800 to A.D. 1000. The period witnessed a rapid growth in population, sharp increase in agricultural output and growing divisions in the society on the basis of class.
The mummies are not too well preserved, having been damaged by rodents and water over the many centuries. The researchers said that some mummies were intentionally broken into pieces and scattered and switched between the many tombs in the mortuary complex.Carbon dating has placed the age of the site from 800 AD to 1000 AD.
Apart from the many mummies, archaeologists have also discovered many storerooms and communal social areas where people ate together. The site, believe the historians, will tell more about the lives of Peruvians who inhabited this area.