Chauchilla Cemetery Photo Gallery

Archaeological Destinations in Peru

Archaeological Places in Nazca

In Ica department, Andean man from the coast changed the constraints of the desert into life-giving opportunities through enhanced knowledge and technology that allowed him to make the best possible use of harsh water and weather conditions.

Also, the art of these people flooded the monotonous landscape with color and profound enigmas. Ica, the department capital, located 300 Km. south of Lima and 104 Km. north of Nazca City, can be reached along the Pan-American highway. The region can be visited throughout the year, because its warm weather (an annual average of 24°C) is amazingly bright and stable.

Chauchilla

Is a cemetery that contains prehispanic mummified human remains and archeological artifacts, located 30 kilometers south of Nazca City.

The cemetery was discovered in the 1920s, but had not been used since the 9th century AD. The cemetery includes many important burials over a period of 600 to 700 years. The start of the interments was in about 200 AD. It is important as a source of archaeology to Nazca culture.

The cemetery has been extensively plundered by huaqueros (grave robbers) who have left human bones and pottery scattered around the area.[4] Similar local cemeteries have been damaged to a greater extent. The site has been protected by Peruvian law since 1997 and tourists pay around seven U.S. dollars to take the two-hour tour of this ancient necropolis.

The site is by the Poroma riverbed and can be accessed off a dirt track from the Panamerican Highway. In 1997, the majority of the scattered bones and plundered pottery were restored to the tombs.

Preservation of the bodies
The bodies are so remarkably preserved due mainly to the dry climate in the Peruvian Desert but the funeral rites were also a contributing factor. The bodies were clothed in embroidered cotton and then painted with a resin and kept in purpose-built tombs made from mud bricks. The resin is thought to have kept out insects and slowed bacteria trying to feed on the bodies.

The nearby site of Estaquería may provide clues to the remarkable preservation of the numerous bodies in these cemeteries. At that site, archeologists found wooden pillars initially thought to have been used for astronomical sightings. However, it is now believed that the posts were used to dry bodies in a mummification process. This may account for the high degree of preservation seen in thousand-year-old bodies which still have hair and the remains of soft tissue, such as skin.

 

Mummy in Chauchilla Cemetery

Mummy in Chauchilla Cemetery

© J. Mazzotti

Mummy in Chauchilla Cemetery

Mummy in Chauchilla Cemetery

© J. Mazzotti

Mummy in Chauchilla Cemetery

Mummy in Chauchilla Cemetery

© J. Mazzotti

Mummy in Chauchilla Cemetery

Mummy in Chauchilla Cemetery

© J. Mazzotti