Huge ancient tomb find at Pachacamac, Peru 
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 Huge ancient tomb find at Pachacamac, Peru
Tombs uncovered at Peruvian ruins

Tombs uncovered at Peruvian ruins
May 17 2005
Archaeologists have uncovered a multi-level grave site at Peru's ancient
ruins of Pachacamac, including mummy bundles containing whole families.
There were also bodies of pilgrims who presumably sought cures from an
oracle deity for diseases like syphilis, tuberculosis and cancer, the
project's leader said.
"What is interesting in this cemetery is that it is totally intact, and
we have mummies of different epochs, different periods, and they have
their burial goods with them," archaeologist Peter Eeckhout, of the Free
University of Brussels, told The Associated Press.
"This will be very useful for us to (determine) the chronology of the
site and the succession of the cultures here."
Pachacamac, 20 miles south of the capital, Lima, was a sprawling
ceremonial centre of 18 mud-brick pyramids with ramps and plazas ruled
by the Ychsma lords from 900 AD to 1470. Today, the ruins are a major
tourist attraction.
Eeckhout started to excavate the site in 1999, heading an international
team of archaeologists in the Project Ychsma (pronounced EESH-MA).
The Inca Empire conquered the religious centre less than a century
before Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro's brother, Hernando,
plundered the site in 1533 and destroyed the idol that served as an
Eeckhout said that archaeologists began exploring Pachacamac in the
1890s but found much of the nearly 1,500-acre ruins already looted, and
quickly ran out of intact tombs to explore.
But this year, he said, his team decided to dig near a pyramid ramp that
had been overlooked. So far, they have excavated 69 tombs and funerary
bundles in the area.
"Part of the cemetery had been protected from looting in the colonial
and modern periods thanks to the crumbling and destruction of some
walls" which formed a protective cover, he said.
Digging down more than a dozen feet, they found three levels of burial
"In the upper layer of burials, we have an abnormal proportion of
individuals who were suffering from very grave and lethal diseases, such
as syphilis, tuberculosis and cancer," he said. "This leads us to think
that these people were brought to Pachacamac from other sites in order
to be cured by the great god that had his sanctuary here."
Lower down were funerary bundles dating back to before the Inca Empire
turned Pachacamac into a pilgrimage centre around 1470.
"The second layer is much more local, related to the region of
Pachacamac and we have what we traditionally interpret as family
burials," Eeckhout said.
"In the same mummy bundle, we have one male, one female and the
children. We are currently excavating these mummies."
He said his team had found several sealed tombs that they had not yet
breached, and a third level with mummified remains from an even earlier
This year's excavation season ends this month and the excavation site
will be filled in to protect it until digging resumes next year.

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