Lost for 2 700 years: Tomb of the Serpent Jaguar Priests Uncovered in Peru
A very interesting tomb has been uncovered in San Pedro de Pacopampa, Chota Province, Cajamarca Region, Peru. The tomb contains a double burial of what is believed to be high-ranking priests from the Pacopampa culture (a contemporary of the Chavin culture) of the Pre-Inca Formative Period. Elaborate grave goods were placed alongside the individuals who were buried around the same time as the previously encountered Lady of Pacopampa .
The two individuals were buried in the fetal position, with one facing the North and the other the South, according to La Republica . They were found in the same position and a similar location at the Pacopampa site to where the Lady of Pacopampa was discovered in 2009.
The remains of the Lady of Pacopampa, discovered in 2009 ( Proyecto Arqueologico Pacopampa )
Lead researcher of the joint venture of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos of Peru and the National Ethnology Museum from Japan, Dr Yuji Seki, stated that "These personages were found adjacent to the East side of the square courtyard of the third platform. This courtyard was the scene of public meetings where ceremonial activities were held involving the consumption of food and beverages. Perhaps these individuals directed and participated in these feasts."
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Map of the Pacopampa archaeological site, Chota Province, Cajamarca region, Peru. ( Proyecto Arqueológico Pacopampa )
Along with the bodies, an elaborate necklace of 25 gold beads was found as well as a unique black ceramic bottle in the shape of a serpent with a jaguar head (from which the priests have received their nickname).
Close-up of the jaguar face of the black ceramic bottle discovered at the double tomb in Pacopampa, Peru ( Wilfredo Sandoval/El Comercio )
Different colored pigments, believed to be deliberately placed , were found in front of the skull of one of the individuals. These mineral deposits include portions of: cinnabar (red), malachite (green), hematite (dark brown), magnetite (shiny black), and calcite (white color). The meaning of these mineral and color choices has yet to be determined.
The gold necklace and some of the minerals placed in the Tomb of the Serpent-Jaguar Priests, Pacopampa, Peru ( Wilfredo Sandoval/El Comercio )
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Another intriguing feature of the skeletons is the supposed elongated craniums . This feature of the skulls, combined with the grave goods present and their location at the site, provides a context that suggests to the researchers that the two bodies were elite members of the society. This is surprising for the team, who previously believed that there were no high-status persons in the Pacopampa culture. The new discovery also indicates to the researchers in the Proyecto Arqueologico Pacopampa that the site may have been a monumental ceremonial center at one time.
Dr. Yuji Seki in front of a section of the Pacopampa archeological site, Cajamarca region, Peru. ( El Comercio )
Seki said in a statement that next year they will complete a study to find out the sex and age of the two priests. They are also “unsure if there are other remains to be found below the bodies” just discovered. Thus excavations will continue if the researchers are successful in their request for more funding.
Featured image: The double burial of the Serpent-Jaguar Priests, Pacopampa, Peru. ( Ahora Digital )