Archaeologists unearth tomb of elite figure from the Chancay culture

Archaeologists excavating in Peru’s Huaral province have unearthed a tomb belonging to an elite figure from the Chancay culture.

The Chancay were a pre-Hispanic civilisation which developed in the later part of the Inca Empire on the central coast of Peru from around AD 1000 to 1470.

The culture created large urban centres with pyramid-shaped mounds and complex buildings, organised within different types of settlements or ayllus that were controlled by leaders or curacas.


Archaeologists from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, led by Pieter Van Dalen Luna, discovered the tomb in a cemetery in the Chancay valley which dates from AD 1000 to 1400.

Image Credit : Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos

The tomb is a sunken pit measuring six metres deep and contains the remains of a Chancay elite protected by a large bundle. Also found are the remains of five other individuals that the team suggest could be sacrificed relatives, children, or servants.

A unique find in the tomb is the discovery of a wooden oar, for which no other examples have been found to date during the excavations of over 80 other Chancay burials in the cemetery.

Alongside the burials are the remains of four sacrificed llamas to honour the deceased, and 25 ceramic vessels containing offerings of food to serve the dead on their journey to the afterlife.


Further studies are yet to be conducted to determine the age, sex and possible causes of death for the individuals in the tomb, which the researchers hope to determine through an anthropological analysis.

Excavations at the cemetery previously discovered a tomb containing the remains of two adults and one child buried alongside ceramic vessels filled with the remnants corn, fruit and cotton seeds, as well as the remains of guinea pigs sacrificed as part of a funeral ritual.

Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos

Header Image Credit : Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos

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Markus Milligan
Markus Milligan
Markus Milligan - Markus is a journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,000 articles across several online publications. Markus is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW).



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