‘Lady of the Mask’ mummy unearthed in first intact Huari tomb in Peru’s capital

Peruvian archaeologists have unearthed a well-preserved 1,300-year-old female mummy in the pre-Columbian Pucllana ruins, a partially excavated rectangular mud-brick compound that was once part of the Huari Empire.

So far 30 tombs have been excavated on the site, located in Lima’s posh Miraflores district. But this is the first one found that was spared by looters and tomb raiders on the prowl for gold since the Spaniards first came to Peru.

“We’ve discovered other tombs before,” said Isabel Flores, the project’s head archeologist. “But they always had holes, or were damaged. Never had we found an intact tomb like this one – intact.”

This is why the find is so important, Flores told daily El Comercio.

The tomb is believed to belong to members of the Huari Empire, which flourished in Peru for approximately 400 years — about four times longer than the Inca Empire — from 700 AD to 1000 AD.

Archeologists found three multi-layer funeral bundles containing a two adults, one a female, and a sacrificed child. All three were crouched and positioned with their knees tucked under their chins.

The most impressive find, other than the tomb itself, which contains unkus or Huari garments, an array of weaving tools and ceramic objects placed around the dead as offerings, was the well-preserved 1,300 year-old female masked mummy.

Dubbed the “lady of the mask,” the mummy was adorned by a funeral mask with the characteristics of a woman’s face, including narrow lips, nose, and large eyes with black pupils and white irises.

The Huaris traditionally buried influential individuals in stone tombs and attached funeral masks to mummies of noble women.

The Pucllana ruins archaeological project is financed by Peru’s National Culture Institute and the Municipality of Miraflores.

But, Flores said, the city has already cut back on funding and has yet to inaugurate an adequate exhibition and storage facility for the historical material.

More urgently, she added, the archaeologists need funds to perform X-rays on the mummies.

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