Peru pipeline workers unearth ancient children’s cemetery

Early analysis suggests the site may have been a site for children who died of anemia after crop failure

Peruvian workers unearthed eight bundles of funeral belongings believed to be around 1,000 years old while installing a gas pipeline in capital Lima, archaeologists said on Friday, saying the site likely marked a children’s cemetery.

The finding in northern Lima’s Carabayllo district suggests the site may have been a cemetery for children who died from severe anemia resulting from a climate event that would have hit local agriculture, according to early analysis.

“Nutritional stress might have caused the children’s mortality rate, explaining why we found more burials of infants in these cemeteries,” said Jesus Bahamonde Schreiber, archaeologist for gas company Calidda.

Six of the bundles — found around 100 meters from a previous discovery of 28 graves — belonged to children and two to adults, he added.

Schreiber said they are believed to be between 1,100 and 800 years old, which would link them to the pre-Inca Ychma and Chancay cultures that developed in what is now northern Peru and along its central coastline.

Best known for the picturesque mountain-top royal Inca retreat of Machu Picchu, which draws millions of tourists every year, Peru was home to various pre-Hispanic cultures that thrived in the centuries before the Inca empire rose to power.

Some 400 huacas (ancient tombs or monuments) and other archeological ruins can be found in residential neighborhoods of metropolitan Lima. This discovery comes two weeks after archaeologists found a 1,000-year-old mummy in the Miraflores area of the capital, in the Huaca Pucllana site.

The mummy was in a sitting position with bent legs. It had long hair and its jawbone was almost completely intact, according to the archaeologist leading the dig.


Cover image: The Huaca Pucllana site. Source: Reuters


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