Skip to main content

1,000-year-old mummy in fetal position found in underground tomb in Peru

The mummy — the remains of a male between 18 and 22 years old — was found buried in a fetal position in a tomb at the site of Cajamarquilla in Peru.
The mummy — the remains of a male between 18 and 22 years old — was found buried in a fetal position in a tomb at the site of Cajamarquilla in Peru. (Image credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

Archaeologists have unearthed a mummy dating back around 1,000 years at the site of Cajamarquilla in Peru. The researchers discovered the mummy lying in a fetal position and bound by rope.

At the time the mummy was buried, Cajamarquilla was a thriving city located on the right bank of the Rímac river about 16 miles (25 kilometers) inland, and  was a place where people from the coastal and mountainous areas of Peru engaged in trade, researchers said in a statement (opens in new tab). More than 10,000 people might have lived in the city at the time, the researchers said. 

Related: Photos: The amazing mummies of Peru and Egypt

The well-preserved mummy was found in an underground tomb that had a seven-step staircase leading down to it , researchers said in the statement. The mummy, a male who was between 18 and 22 years old when he died, was found covered in a textile, their body wrapped in rope — a common practice at the time for those who lived in mountainous areas close to Cajamarquilla, the researchers said. 

The remains of a dog and an Andean guinea pig were found beside the mummy, along with corn and the remains of other vegetables, Pieter Van Dalen Luna, an archaeology professor at the National University of San Marcos who led the team, said in another statement (opens in new tab). The buried man died sometime between 1,200  — and 800 years ago, and he may have been the son of a wealthy merchant, the researchers said. 

Family members would have visited his tomb at times after his burial to give offerings. "After the body is placed in the tomb, there are constant events and activities," Van Dalen Luna told CNN (opens in new tab). "That is to say, their descendants keep coming back over many years and placing food and offerings there, including molluscs." He noted that llama bones were found outside the tomb and may have been cooked by visitors who brought those bones as offerings. 

The mummy is now being displayed at the National University of San Marcos's museum. Analysis of the mummy is ongoing. Van Dalen Luna did not respond to requests for comment at time of publication. 

Originally published on Live Science.

Owen Jarus
Owen Jarus

Owen Jarus is a regular contributor to Live Science who writes about archaeology and humans' past. He has also written for The Independent (UK), The Canadian Press (CP) and The Associated Press (AP), among others. Owen has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from Ryerson University.