Friday, August 23, 2013

Women Power in Ancient Peru

The discovery in Peru of another tomb belonging to a pre-Hispanic priestess, the eighth in more than two decades, confirms that powerful women ruled this region 1,200 years ago, archeologists said.

The remains of the woman were discovered in an area called La Libertad in Peru's northern Chepan province; she belonged to a civilization called the Moche (or Mochica). In 2006, researchers uncovered the Lady of Cao in the same region. 

Before then, it was thought that only men held high positions in ancient Peru — but the luxury of the Lady of Cao's funerary bundle made it clear that this ancient woman was hugely high-ranking and most likely considered nearly divine. 

The priestess was in an "impressive 1,200-year-old burial chamber" the archeologist said, pointing out that the Mochica were known as master craftsmen.

"The burial chamber of the priestess is 'L'-shaped and made of clay, covered with copper plates in the form of waves and sea birds," Castillo said.

Near the neck is a mask and a knife, he added.

The tomb, decorated with pictures in red and yellow, also has ceramic offerings -- mostly small vases -- hidden in about 10 niches on the side. 

The new priestess tomb makes it clear that the Lady of Cao is far from an anomaly. According to archaeological project director Luis Jaime Castillo:
This find makes it clear that women didn't just run rituals in this area but governed here and were queens of Mochica society... It is the eighth priestess to be discovered. Our excavations have only turned up tombs with women, never men.
According to Castillo, the burial chamber was "impressive," even by Mochica standards. The Mochica were known as master craftsmen, so that is saying something. The priestess's burial chamber was covered in copper plates in the forms of waves and seabirds, and a mask and a knife were found near her neck. Her body is flanked with ceramic offerings, as well as the bodies of seven human sacrifices (two babies, three children, and two adults).

"Tomb find confirms powerful women ruled Peru long ago"

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