The discovery of another tomb belonging to a Moche—or Mochia—priestess in Peru confirms that powerful women ruled the region 1,200 years ago, reported the Agence France-Presse.
Her remains were found in late July in an area called La Libertad in Peru’s northern Chepan province.
“This find makes it clear that women didn’t just run rituals in this area but governed here and were queens of Mochica society,” project director Luis Jaime Castillo told AFP.
“It is the eighth priestess to be discovered,” he added. “Our excavations have only turned up tombs with women, never men.”
Researchers have been puzzled by Moche society for years considering no written record was left. What they did leave was bizarre pyramids dotting the landscape of Peru and pottery depicting brutal ritualized battles in which the loser was sacrificed.
“But as the archaeologists studied them [pottery] more closely they realised they weren’t ordinary battles; all the soldiers were dressed alike, the same images were repeated time and again. When the battle was won, the vanquished were ritually sacrificed; their throats cut, the blood drained into a cup and the cup drunk by a God-like deity. It was, the archaeologists slowly realised, a story not of war but ritual combat followed by human sacrifice,” says a show on the BBC called “The Lost Civilisation of Peru.”
In 2006, the famous “Lady of Cao” was discovered. She died about 1,700 years ago and was one of the first female rulers in Peru.
The most recent found tomb was decorated with pictured painted in red and yellow and had ceramic offerings, hidden in niches along the side.
“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 told the AFP.
And she was not buried alone.
“Accompanying the priestess are bodies of five children, two of them babies, and two adults, all of whom were sacrificed,” Castillo said, noting there were two feathers atop the coffin.