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Scientists have found tens of tombs holding mummies in Peru. According to the researchers, the site of the discovery is probably a 1,200-year-old ceremonial site where conflicting settlements may have settled their scores and held religious ceremonies.

The team of researchers, which included a large group of international archaeologists, carried out the excavation works from 2004 to 2007 and retrieved over 171 mummies from small tombs and catacombs around the site which is called Tenahaha.

Justin Jennings, curator at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, was part of the excavation. He explained: “The tombs are located on small hills surrounding the site. The dead, likely numbering in the low thousands, towered over the living.”

According to the experts, the mummies had their arms folded along their chest and their knees put up to the level of their shoulders before they died. The researchers added that the dead bodies were then tied with rope and bound in layers of textile materials. The mummies have different ages. The site holds neonate fetuses, infant mummies which were buried in jars, but also many older adults.

The researchers explained that the mummified remains were found in a decayed shape, mainly because of damage from rodents and water. The experts also discovered that some mummies were broken apart by purpose. Their bones were scattered and switched between the dozen of tombs from the mortuary complex. In one such tomb the archaeologists found approximately 400 isolated human remains, including hands, feet and teeth. The scientists mentioned that the people were probably inhabitants of the nearby villages close to Tenahaha.

“Though many individuals were broken apart, others were left intact. People were moved around the tombs, but they sometimes remained bunched together, and even earth or rocks were used to separate some groups and individuals. Some grave goods were smashed apart, while others were left intact,” explained Jennings.

The mummy-filled tombs were not the only discovery that the researchers made. The international team also found numerous storerooms and communal social areas. These were special places where people could eat and share a meal.

Tenahaha and its surrounding region was the scene of many conflicts in different periods. Villages would battle each other for farming ground or for power. Tenahaha seems to be a neutral ground in this troubled land, a place where people could gather in peace.

Image Source: Museums Syndicate

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