North of Lima, in a small fishing town called íspero, archaeologists were pleasantly surprised when they unearthed what is believed to be 4,500-year-old mummy. The finding, which took place in early 2016, has now been recognized as one of the 10 most important international discoveries that took place last year, as chosen by the Archaeological Institute of America.
Dubbed the “Dama de los Cuatro Tupus” (Lady of Four Pins), researchers suggest that she died around 45 years of age.
Buried with carved bones in the form of birds and Amazonian monkeys, as well as a few Spondylus (a genus of mollusk), the mummy was likely a prestigious figure in her community. According to the Archaeological Institute of America publication, Archaeology, the sea shells are an important symbol as they “come from hundreds of miles away in far northern Peru and were a sign of authority for centuries in Andean cultures.” The remains also suggest a trade between íspero and nearby Caral, one of the oldest cities in Peru, during what was considered “the dawn of the fishing and farming civilization that thrived on Peru's coast” (Archaeology).
The team of archaeologists were led by Ruth Shady, director of the Caral Archaeological Zone. Shady notes that her team has also found sculptures of female figures from the same time period, suggesting that women played a prominent role in the ancient Andean culture.
To read the full list of 2016 discoveries, click here.