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Tomb of 3,000-year-old priest found at Pacopampa

Archaeologists have found a tomb containing the burial of a 3,000-year-old priest in the Pacopampa Archaeological Zone, located in the department of Cajamarca, Peru.

Excavations have been conducted as a collaboration between the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos and the National Museum of Ethnology of Japan.

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Pacopampa is a large ceremonial centre associated with the Chavín culture, an extinct pre-Columbian civilization that emerged in the northern Andean highlands of Peru during the Early Horizon period.

This era is distinguished by a heightened focus on religious practices, the emergence of ceramics closely tied to ceremonial sites, advancements in agricultural methods, and significant progress in metallurgy and textile production.

Image Credit : Peru Ministry of Culture

In a press announcement by the Peru Ministry of Culture, archaeologists excavating within the framework of the Pacopampa Archaeological Project have discovered the burial in a large circular pit beneath layers of ash mixed with black earth. The funerary context corresponds to the Pacopampa I phase and dates from around 1200 BC.

Within the burial is a funerary deposit of decorated spherical ceramic bowls and a collection of decorated seals, indicating that the burial belonged to an important priest of the Chavín culture.

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One of the seals depicts an anthropomorphic face design, while another has a jaguar design. Chavín art is known for its complex iconography and its “mythical realism”, with the jaguar having a sacred significance which was worshiped as a deity to reflect the surrounding landscape.

Previous excavations in 2009 uncovered a tomb known as the “The Lady of Pacopampa” which dates from 900 BC. This later tomb contained a female burial with an artificially deformed skull and funerary deposits consisting of gold earrings, ceramic pots and seashell necklaces.

Peru Ministry of Culture

Header Image Credit : Peru Ministry of Culture

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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