3,000-year-old priest’s tomb found in Pacopampa

(ORDO NEWS) — Peruvian archaeologists have discovered the grave of a man who used musical instruments in his rituals.

Researchers from a joint Peruvian-Japanese archaeological expedition have found an unusual burial site at the Pacopampa archaeological site, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture said. This expedition has been conducting excavations in the republic for the seventeenth season.

The burial chamber is a conical hole with a diameter of one meter, sealed with a large piece of natural rock weighing more than half a ton. Preliminary dating is about 1000 BC. A man who died at the age of 25 to 35 is buried in the grave.

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The tomb of the priest was sealed with a huge stone

The burial device itself (especially the complicated way of sealing it) suggests that the buried person was not an easy person.

This is also confirmed by the rich grave goods: many different decorations made both from cheap material (shells) and from semi-precious stones – for example, malachite.

Among the items that belonged to this man, archaeologists found several pututo (pututo) – wind musical instruments made from large sea shells (Strombus sp.) from the coast of the Gulf of Guayaquil.

Pututo was first found in Chavin de Huantar. This is a complex of monuments left from the so-called Chavin archaeological culture.

The Chavin culture is dated to about 900-200 BC, its representatives lived in the north of modern Peru, in the mountains – above three kilometers from sea level.

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A man playing the pututo. 16th century engraving

Previously, scholars have noted traces of the influence of the Chavin culture in Pacopampa, although, according to dating, the latter appeared earlier, around 1200 BC, and lasted until 500 BC. That is, the pututo found in the tomb of Pacopampa is older than the Chavinian culture.

Researchers believe that the man buried in such an unusual way was not just a noble person (as evidenced by funeral gifts). They believe that he was a priest who used pututo in his rituals.

It may seem to our contemporary that sea shells are not very valuable items. But for the inhabitant of the Andean highlands, everything was different.

You have to walk to Guayaquil, near the sea coast – that is, go down from the mountains, transfer acclimatization, give up your usual food (we wrote earlier that the diet of people who lived in the Andes at different heights varied greatly and influenced their daily life).

Shells were valued so much that much later their cheap counterpart appeared – similar musical instruments began to be made from cattle horns. The pututo remained a ritual musical instrument during the time of the Inca Empire – and even after the arrival of Europeans in the New World.

The assumption that the deceased was a priest is based on the very place where he was buried. The fact is that Pacopampa is not an ordinary settlement, but a ceremonial complex, which, apparently, was used by representatives of different cultures.

The history of the complex is divided into three parts. The first of them (Pakopampa I, 1200-900 BC) is the most mysterious. Then the first buildings appeared, in which the first priests performed their rituals.

But who these people were is not yet clear. Then the so-called Pacopampa II period (900-500 BC) is singled out, when signs of the Chavin culture arise and spread, the carriers of which were mainly the predecessors of the Quechua (the main part of the population of the future Inca empire).

The last period is Pacopampa III (500-100 BC), the time of the appearance of the people, the bearer of the Cajamarca culture .

Pacopampa consists of terraces, the topmost of which, according to scientists, was considered the most prestigious place for both rituals and burial. Although treasure hunters have plundered the monument for centuries, archaeologists have found a significant number of artifacts and burials.

We talked about one of them, the burial of the priest of the Serpent-Jaguar, here . But the new find is older than both this grave and the tomb of the so-called Lady of Pacopampa, a woman with an unusually elongated skull, which the researchers considered the ruler of those places. She died around 900 BC.


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