Deformed Jewel-laden Nazca Priestess Mummy found in Cahuachi, Peru

Cahuachi, nr Nazca, Peru

The mummy of a young Nazca priestess has been discovered in the ancient city of Cahuachi, Peru. Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Orefici, director of the Nazca Project, made the startling find in a mini-temple between the mysterious metropolis’ Great and Orange Pyramids.

The 300-450 AD woman had been buried beneath ropes and reeds, and covered in finely-woven fabrics with killer whale pattern. Several obsidian arrow heads had also been worked into the weave.

The young woman’s face had been painted, and an extra vertebra added to her back. Her arms were also deformed – possibly as a result of having had them outstretched in prayer for prolonged periods.

An Embarrassment of Riches

Nazca Lines

Yet there is much more to the mummy than her bodily peculiarities. An array of spectacular jewels was also found in the burial, including a still-attached gold and silver nose ring.

Other highlights from the haul include spondylus shell bracelets and necklaces, and ceramics – which many believe to have been integral to Nazca culture.

Orefici and his team have no small task ahead of them deciphering the burial’s myriad meaning. And thanks to a lack of funding, he will have to pay guardian fees personally, to ensure the site does not fall prey to treasure hunters – and continues his work at the Cahuachi without funding from any Italian or Peruvian sources.

The adobe city of Cahuachi was once the cultural capital of the mysterious Nazca; probably best known for their giant geoglyphs or, ‘Nazca Lines‘, etched across the Nazca River Valley. Cahuachi itself stretches for up to 24km over the hills above the valley – larger than the famous Chim city of Chan Chan some 700 miles north.

Founded in 400 BC, the city flourished at the turn of the 1st century AD. Yet it was mysteriously and meticulously abandoned around 450 AD, as its inhabitants reduced it to nothing more than a ceremonial site. Their Nazca Lines would stay a secret until 1927, when archaeologist Toribio Majia Xesspe spied them from the top of a hill.

Ancient Peru is top of the agenda this week at Heritage Key, as we speak to renowned Inca expert and author John Hemming about one of the world’s most cryptic cultures, in a special video interview! Got any questions you want answered? Send them to us either via the comments box below, our contact page or by emailing me direct.

Video by En Per.