Archaeology

Peru: Archaeologists discover tomb of elite Chimú musician

By Rachel Chase

Excavators working in Ancash have come upon a tomb containing multiple burials, fine textiles, jewelry, and musical instruments.

Peru: Archaeologists discover tomb of elite Chimú musician

(Photo: El Comercio/Matthew Helmer for National Geographic)

Archaeologists investigating the Samanco archaeological complex in the region of Ancash have made a discovery that they are hailing as a new window into the relationships maintained between the Inca and the cultures they conquered.

According to El Comercio, archaeologists Matthew Helmer and Jeisen Navarro have made significant finds while investigating a tomb from the late period of the Chimú culture. National Geographic reports that the tomb dates to the 15th or 16th centuries, likely shortly before the conquest of Perú by the Spanish took place.

The Chimú culture originated around 900 AD in the northern coast of Peru, and were conquered by the Inca in 1470. Matthew Helmer told National Geographic that the discovery of the tomb was an opportunity to learn more about Inca-Chimú relations, saying “Although the Chimú warred with the Inca before being conquered, grave goods like this indicate that the Incas allowed previous coastal beliefs to continue rather than impose their own pantheon during the consolidation of their empire.”

Helmer added that “This is one of the very few Chimú-Inca tombs ever excavated. It reveals interesting details about the coastal Andean world just prior to European contact.”

National Geographic reports that the tomb contains the remains of six people, four of whom are believed to be noble musicians and weavers. Two women were apparently sacrificed to accompany the deceased elite into the afterlife.

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